This study evaluated the short-term effects of glycerol addition on readily biodegradable (RB) chemical oxygen demand (COD) in a carbon limited wastewater influent. The presence of an RB fraction provides with a suitable substrate for microorganisms to produce volatile fatty acids (VFA). The oxygen utilization rate (OUR) has been used to evaluate the oxygen consumption for RB substrate in wastewater. Wastewater with low organic content contains limited RB substrate, and thus, additional carbon source is required to improve biological treatment capability. Acetate, propionate, methanol, and glycerol are the commonly available carbon sources for biological treatment process. However, the cost of acetate and propionate are relatively high, and it is not economical to use these carbon sources in the wastewater plant. The use of methanol as a carbon source inherently poses safety issues in field applications due to its toxic and flammable properties. On the other hand, crude glycerol is the byproduct of biodiesel, which is an excellent carbon source alternative. However, crude glycerol contains impurities and requires a certain degree of purification to enhance the performance. The samples for the study were collected from the Iron Bridge Wastewater Reclamation Facility (Oviedo, FL) designed for treating municipal wastewater. The total COD (TCOD) of the sample influent was in the range of 237 to 408 mg COD/L, and RBCOD value was between 38 and 80.5 mg COD/L, containing up to 10 mg COD/L of VFA. This study also demonstrates the relationship between the glycerol concentration and OURs during the diauxic growth phase from the addition of glycerol. The growth was due to the existence of RB substrate and availability of glycerol for the microorganisms. TCOD increased from 284 to 378 mg COD/L and from 284 mg COD/L to 323 mg COD/L by spiking approximately 30 and 15 mL of glycerol stock solution (6.67 g/L), respectively. RBCOD increased from 45 to 89 mg COD/L and 55 mg COD/ L by spiking 30 mL and 15 ml glycerol stock solution, respectively. The initial influent heterotrophic active biomass (ZBH) increased from 5.4 to 15.8 mg VSS/L (8 to 23.4 mg COD/L) due to the addition of glycerol, indicating that the glycerol may be an adequate carbon source. The COD of wastewater with limited VFA (e.g., 10 mg COD/L) increased up to 2,502 mg COD/L where propionic acid (2,468 mg COD/L) exists as the primary end product with a small quantity of acetic acid (34 mg COD/L). Propionic acid was the main VFA component fermented from the glycerol addition. Glycerol addition led to increased RBCOD accompanied by high VFA production. This research investigated the short-term effect of glycerol addition on existing RBCOD in wastewater. It is recommended to explore the effect of increased RBCOD by the addition of glycerol to the effluent N and P for future study.


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Graduation Date





Sadmani, A. H. M. Anwar


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering; Environmental Engineering Sciences









Release Date

November 2016

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)