Dynamic calibration of process-wide partial-nitritation modeling with airlift granular for nitrogen removal in a full-scale wastewater treatment plant


A main challenge in rapid nitrogen removal from rejected water in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is growth of biomass by nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). In this study, partial nitritation (PN) coupled with air-lift granular unit (AGU) technology was applied to enhance nitrogen-removal efficiency in WWTPs. For successful PN process at high-nitrogen-influent conditions, a pH of 7.5–8 for high free-ammonia concentrations and AOB for growth of total bacterial populations are required. The PN process in a sequential batch reactor (SBR) with AGU was modeled as an activated sludge model (ASM), and dynamic calibration using full-scale plant data was performed to enhance aeration in the reactor and improve the nitrite-to-ammonia ratio in the PN effluent. In steady-state and dynamic calibrations, the measured and modeled values of the output were in close agreement. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the kinetic and stoichiometric parameters are associated with growth and decay of heterotrophs, AOB, and NOB microorganisms. Overall, 80% of the calibrated data fit the measured data. Stage 1 of the dynamic calibration showed NO2 and NO3 values close to 240 mg/L and 100 mg/L, respectively. Stage 2 showed NH4 values of 200 mg/L at day 30 with the calibrated effluent NO2 and NO3 value of 250 mg/L. In stage 3, effluent NH4 concentration was 200 mg/L at day 60.

Juin Yau Lim
Juin Yau Lim
Ph.D, M.Eng, AMIChemE (he/him/his)

Passionate sustainable practitioner that seeks solutions with modern approaches.