Accuracy of different sensors for the estimation of pollutant concentrations (total suspended solids, total and dissolved chemical oxygen demand) in wastewater and stormwater

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Many field investigations have used continuous sensors (turbidimeters and/or ultraviolet (UV)-visible spectrophotometers) to estimate with a short time step pollutant concentrations in sewer systems. Few, if any, publications compare the performance of various sensors for the same set of samples. Different surrogate sensors (turbidity sensors, UV-visible spectrophotometer, pH meter, conductivity meter and microwave sensor) were tested to link concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS), total and dissolved chemical oxygen demand (COD), and sensors' outputs. In the combined sewer at the inlet of a wastewater treatment plant, 94 samples were collected during dry weather, 44 samples were collected during wet weather, and 165 samples were collected under both dry and wet weather conditions. From these samples, triplicate standard laboratory analyses were performed and corresponding sensors outputs were recorded. Two outlier detection methods were developed, based, respectively, on the Mahalanobis and Euclidean distances. Several hundred regression models were tested, and the best ones (according to the root mean square error criterion) are presented in order of decreasing performance. No sensor appears as the best one for all three investigated pollutants.

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