Development of a test method to access the sludge reduction potential of aquatic organisms in activated sludge

B.R. Buijs, A. Klapwijk, H.J.H. Elissen, W.H. Rulkens

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42 Citations (Scopus)


This article shows the development of a quantitative sludge reduction test method, which uses the sludge consuming aquatic worm Lumbriculus variegatus (Oligochaeta, Lumbriculidae). Essential for the test are sufficient oxygen supply and the presence of a non-stirred layer of sludge for burrowing of the organisms. The test eliminates the unwanted effects of the organisms' movements, so-called bioturbation, on oxygen transport and (therefore) on sludge reduction. We used fresh untreated activated sludge grown on sewage, in order to stay close to the daily practice of sludge treatment. By separating sludge and worms, sludge reduction and worm growth are quantified independently and accurately. Predation by L. variegatus approximately doubles the decay rate of activated sludge. A minimum ratio of initial worm to sludge biomass (W0/S0) of about 0.4g worm/g sludge dry mass is required. Under the test conditions 20-40% of the predated sludge is converted into worm biomass. Our test is simple, reproducible and accurate and is done with equipment generally available in any laboratory, yielding results within a few days. The test can also be used to assess the application of mixtures of different aquatic organisms, but does not provide enough information for the design of a sludge treatment reactor
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8360-8366
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • sediments
  • oligochaete
  • mineralization
  • predation
  • worms


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