Volatile Solids

Definition - What does Volatile Solids mean?

Volatile solids are those solids in water or other liquids that are lost on ignition of dry solids at 1,020°F (550°C). It is a water quality measurement obtained from the loss on ignition of total suspended solids. It has great importance in water and wastewater treatment.

Volatile solids normally represents the amount of organic solids in water. The greater the concentration of organic or volatile solids, the stronger the wastewater. It is helpful when assessing the amount of biologically inert organic matter, such as lignin, in the case of wood pulp waste liquids.

Corrosionpedia explains Volatile Solids

A volatile solid is a substance that can easily transform from its solid phase to its vapor phase without going through a liquid phase. Domestic wastewater solids are about 50 percent organic, which in turn contaminates the ground and fresh water. These solids are generally from plants, dead animal matter and synthetic organic compounds. They can be ignited or burned. Because the organic fraction can be driven off at high temperatures, they are called volatile solids.

The amount of solids in wastewater is frequently used to describe the strength of the waste. The more solids present in wastewater, the stronger that wastewater is. If the solids in wastewater are mostly organic, the impact on a treatment plant is greater than if the solids are mostly inorganic.

Water that contains high levels of volatile solids is unsuitable for drinking.

A test for volatile solids is normally applied to sludge. It is indispensable in the design and operation of sludge digest, vacuum filter and incineration plants. The determination of volatile and fixed components in residue is useful in the control of wastewater plant operation because it offers an approximation of the amount of organic matter present in the solid fraction of the wastewater.

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