The behaviour of f2 coliphage during activated-sludge treatment was influenced by the temperature, flow-through-time, concentration of mixed liquor suspended solids and the virus load.
The most sensitive way to detect behavioural changes was to examine the regression coefficients for the rate of uptake or loss of virus by the mixed liquor solids. This type of analysis revealed, for instance, high values when the solids concentration was high and even greater values occured when high inocula were used. At high temperature the rate of loss of virus titre after inoculation had stopped was greater than the rate of uptake of virus during inoculation although in all other conditions uptake occurred at a greater rate than the loss of virus. The coefficients were relatively low when the flow rate was increased, when the temperature was low or when the inoculum was small.
The distribution of virus between the solids and liquid fractions of the mixed liquor varied somewhat for all conditions but was notably different when (a) the plant was incubated at 5 °C when there was much less virus in the solids fraction than usual, and (b) when the inoculum was low and a much higher proportion of virus was found in the solids.
The efficiency with which virus was removed across the plant was the least-sensitive determinant of viral behaviour and the value was about the same for most treatment conditions. However, low or high inocula did result in some increased or decreased removal of virus, respectively.