EPA Method 304A

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EPA Method 304A:
DETERMINATION OF BIODEGRADATION RATES OF ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VENT OPTION)

Summary:
A self-contained benchtop bioreactor system is assembled in the laboratory. A sample of mixed liquor is added and the waste stream is then fed continuously. The benchtop bioreactor is operated under conditions nearly identical to the target full-scale activated sludge process. Bioreactor temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, average residence time in the reactor, waste composition, biomass concentration, and biomass composition of the full scale process are the parameters which are duplicated in the benchtop bioreactor. Biomass shall be removed from the target full-scale activated sludge unit and held for no more than 4 hours prior to use in the benchtop bioreactor. If antifoaming agents are used in the full-scale system, they shall also be used in the benchtop bioreactor. The feed flowing into and the effluent exiting the benchtop bioreactor are analyzed to determine the biodegradation rates of the target compounds. The flow rate of the exit vent is used to calculate the concentration of target compounds (utilizing Henry's law) in the exit gas stream. If Henry's law constants for the compounds of interest are not known, this method cannot be used in the determination of the biodegradation rate and Method 304B is the suggested method. The choice of analytical methodology for measuring the compounds of interest at the inlet and outlet to the benchtop bioreactor are left to the discretion of the source, except where validated methods are available.

Scope:
This method is applicable for the determination of biodegradation rates of organic compounds in an activated sludge process. The test method is designed to evaluate the ability of an aerobic biological reaction system to degrade or destroy specific components in waste streams. The method may also be used to determine the effects of changes in wastewater composition on operation. The biodegradation rates determined by utilizing this method are not representative of a full-scale system. The rates measured by this method shall be used in conjunction with the procedures listed in appendix C of this part to calculate the fraction emitted to the air versus the fraction biodegraded.