Winter 2009

A Quarterly Newsletter of the Instrumentation Testing Association

ITA Enews

Winter 2010

Instrumentation Testing Association  (ITA)


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ITA Enews is a newsletter of the Instrumentation Testing Association
A non-profit technical and educational association dedicated to promoting reliability and performance of environmental instrumentation and automation technologies. Learn More About Becoming A Member

Benefit from Funding ITA’s TOC/COD Research Project

One of the main purposes of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is to reduce carbon or organic compounds.

Carbon and organic compounds are oxidized in the presence of bacteria in the treatment process and produce carbon dioxide and water. Other chemical and fermentation oxidation also occurs during the treatment process.

Total organic carbon analysis (TOC) is an effective tool for the management of WWTP processes. TOC can be used for early warning of changes in carbon loading to the treatment plant, which can provide treatment plants with the following benefits:

Online TOC Analyzer

(Photo Courtesy of Cole Parmer )

· Increasing plant operations efficiency and response to waste loading upsets by providing a method for real-time TOC analysis of the influent to the treatment plant;


· Reducing energy and methanol chemical costs associated with treatment processes by providing a method for online methanol monitoring using TOC analysis;


· Providing an accurate and real-time method for billing other jurisdictions on organic waste loading in addition to flow by monitoring incoming flows using online TOC analysis in the collection system.


The use of TOC information for process control, using samples of primary effluent and return sludge, has been found to be effective at the City of Hillsboro’s Westside wastewater treatment plant in Oregon (Ortman, C. & Laib, T. 1983).


Traditionally WWTP’s have used biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) to determine loading. COD and BOD analysis are time consuming. The COD test itself requires harmful and hazardous chemicals. These include chromium (III), sulphuric acid, silver, mercury, as well as acids. Although some of these chemicals can be retrieved, however, most of them end up in the sewer system and ultimately in the aquifers (Clesceri et al. 1998).

ITA is preparing to test online total organic carbon (TOC) analyzers and a photo-electrocatalytic (Pe) chemical oxygen demand (PeCOD) at Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority in 2011.  The PeCOD analyzer does not use hazardous chemicals. 

The ITA TOC/PeCOD research team has conducted several conference calls with municipalities to discuss how they can benefit by actively participating in the project and how they can assist with funding. Several treatment facilities and all test instrument manufacturers have agreed to support the TOC research team by providing a portion of the two-year project budget. 

ITA is seeking additional funds from its members and participating treatment plants to conduct this study and needs your financial support. Those contributing to the test will receive a free copy of the ITA TOC/PeCOD test report.

Help further ITA’s mission by contributing funding and by joining the research team. Remember all contributions to ITA are tax deductible.  Please contact ITA to find out more about funding and to learn how your treatment plant can become involved.


Du Toit, W., Use of Total Organic Carbon Analyses on a Wastewater Treatment Plant, Tshwane University of Technology, 2006.


Ortman, C. & Laib, T., Total Organic Carbon, ATR and respiration rate

as control parameters for the activated sludge process. Municipal

Environmental Research Laboratory office of research and development. U.S.

E.P.A. Internal document, 1983.

Clesceri, L.S., Greenberg, A.E., Eaton,A.D. & Franson, M.A.H. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. 20th Edition, American Public Health Association, 1998.

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