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Water Res. 2009 Oct;43(18):4527-38. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2009.07.033. Epub 2009 Aug 5.

Including the effects of filamentous bulking sludge during the simulation of wastewater treatment plants using a risk assessment model.

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Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Girona, Montilivi Campus s/n, Girona, Spain.


The main objective of this paper is to demonstrate how including the occurrence of filamentous bulking sludge in a secondary clarifier model will affect the predicted process performance during the simulation of WWTPs. The IWA Benchmark Simulation Model No. 2 (BSM2) is hereby used as a simulation case study. Practically, the proposed approach includes a risk assessment model based on a knowledge-based decision tree to detect favourable conditions for the development of filamentous bulking sludge. Once such conditions are detected, the settling characteristics of the secondary clarifier model are automatically changed during the simulation by modifying the settling model parameters to mimic the effect of growth of filamentous bacteria. The simulation results demonstrate that including effects of filamentous bulking in the secondary clarifier model results in a more realistic plant performance. Particularly, during the periods when the conditions for the development of filamentous bulking sludge are favourable--leading to poor activated sludge compaction, low return and waste TSS concentrations and difficulties in maintaining the biomass in the aeration basins--a subsequent reduction in overall pollution removal efficiency is observed. Also, a scenario analysis is conducted to examine i) the influence of sludge retention time (SRT), the external recirculation flow rate (Q(r)) and the air flow rate in the bioreactor (modelled as k(L)a) as factors promoting bulking sludge, and ii) the effect on the model predictions when the settling properties are changed due to a possible proliferation of filamentous microorganisms. Finally, the potentially adverse effects of certain operational procedures are highlighted, since such effects are normally not considered by state-of-the-art models that do not include microbiology-related solids separation problems.

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