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Mathematical Modelling of Anaerobic Reactors Treating Domestic Wastewater: Rational Criteria for Model Use

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Anaerobic digestion modelling is an established method for assessing anaerobic wastewater treatment for design, systems analysis, operational analysis, and control. Anaerobic treatment of domestic wastewater is a relatively new, but rapidly maturing technology, especially in developing countries, where the combination of low cost, and moderate-good performance are particularly attractive. The key emerging technology is high-rate anaerobic treatment, particularly  UASB reactors. Systems modelling can potentially offer a number of advantages to this field, and the key motivations for modelling have been identified as operational analysis, technology development, and model-based design. Design is particularly important, as it determines capital cost, a key motivation for implementers. Published modelling studies for anaerobic domestic sewage treatment are limited in number, but well directed at specific issues. Most have a low structural complexity, with first order kinetics, as compared to the more commonly used Monod kinetics. This review addresses the use of anaerobic models in general, application of models to domestic sewage systems, and evaluates future requirements for models that need to address the key motivations of operational analysis, technology  development, and model-based design. For operational analysis and technology development, a complex model such as the ADM1 is recommended, with further extensions as required to address factors such as sulphate reduction. For design, the critical issues are hydraulics and particles (i.e., biomass and solid substrate) modelling. Therefore, the kinetic structure should be relatively simple (at least two-step), but the hydraulic and particulate model should be relatively complex.

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