A full-scale membrane bioreactor (1,600 m3 d−1) was monitored for modelling purposes during the summer of 2006. A complete calibration of the ASM1 model is presented, in which the key points were the wastewater characterisation, the oxygen transfer and the biomass kinetics. Total BOD tests were not able to correctly estimate the biodegradable fraction of the wastewater. Therefore the wastewater fractionation was identified by adjusting the simulated sludge production rate to the measured value. MLVSS and MLSS were accurately predicted during both calibration and validation periods (20 and 30 days). Because the membranes were immerged in the aeration tank, the coarse bubble and fine bubble diffusion systems coexisted in the same tank. This allowed five different aeration combinations, depending whether the 2 systems were operating separately or simultaneously, and at low speed or high speed. The aeration control maintained low DO concentrations, allowing simultaneous nitrification and denitrification. This made it difficult to calibrate the oxygen transfer. The nitrogen removal kinetics were determined using maximum nitrification rate tests and an 8-hour intensive sampling campaign. Despite the challenges encountered, a calibrated set of parameters was identified for ASM1 that gave very satisfactory results for the calibration period. Matching simulated and measured data became more difficult during the validation period, mainly because the dominant aeration configuration had changed. However, the merit of this study is to be the first effort to simulate a full-scale MBR plant.
Keywords: ASM1, full-scale plant, membrane bioreactor, model calibration, nitrogen, oxygen transfer