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Volatile Solids

Reviewed by Raghvendra GopalCheckmark | Last updated: September 12, 2019

What Does Volatile Solids Mean?

Volatile solids are a substance that can easily transform from its solid phase to its vapor phase without going through a liquid phase. Volatile solids normally represent the amount of organic solids in water, and have great importance in water and wastewater treatment.

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


Corrosionpedia Explains Volatile Solids

Domestic wastewater volatile solids are about 50% organic, which in turn contaminates the ground and fresh water. These volatile 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.

They are 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.

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.

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


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