Towards a low complexity carbon removal model for the optimal design of compact decentralised wastewater treatment systems

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On-site decentralised wastewater treatment systems can provide a financially attractive alternative to a sewer connection in locations far from existing sewer networks. Operational problems and shortcomings in the design of these systems still occur frequently. The aim of this paper is to provide a low complexity (i.e. easy to calibrate) but still accurate mathematical model that can be used to optimise the operational design of compact individual wastewater treatment systems. An integrated hydraulic and biological carbon removal model of a biofilm-based compact decentralised treatment system is developed. The procedure for drafting the model is generic and can be used for similar types of wastewater treatment systems since (i) the hydraulic model is based on an N-tanks-in-series model inferred from tracer test experiments and (ii) (biofilm) respirometry experiments are exploited to determine the biodegradation kinetics of the biomass. Based on the preliminary validation results of the integrated model, the carbon removal in the system can be predicted quite accurately. While some adjustments could further improve the modelling strategy, the here presented results can already assist the manufacturers of compact treatment systems in efficiently (re)designing their systems.

Keywords: biofilm respirometry, biological degradation model, design optimisation, hydraulic model, kinetic parameter estimation

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