A new reactor concept for sludge reduction using aquatic worms

H.J.H. Elissen, T.L.G. Hendrickx, B.G. Temmink, C.J.N. Buisman

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98 Citations (Scopus)


Biological waste water treatment results in the production of waste sludge. The final treatment option in The Netherlands for this waste sludge is usually incineration. A biological approach to reduce the amount of waste sludge is through predation by aquatic worms. In this paper we test the applicability of a new reactor concept for sludge reduction by the aquatic worm Lumbriculus variegatus. In this reactor concept the worms are immobilized in a carrier material. In sequencing batch experiments, the sludge breakdown in the predation reactor is compared to sludge breakdown in a blank reactor (i.e. without worms). Predation by the worms results in a distinct sludge reduction, which is almost three times higher than in the blank experiment. The worm faeces that are produced after sludge predation have a sludge volume index (SVI) that is approximately half that of the initial waste sludge. Due to the configuration of the predation reactor, waste sludge, worm faeces and worms are separated, which is beneficial to further processing. The obtained results show that the proposed reactor concept has a high potential for use in large-scale sludge processing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3713-3718
JournalWater Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • oligochaete


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