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Towards a Generalized Physicochemical Framework: WWTmod Workshop Position Paper

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Process models used for activated sludge, anaerobic digestion and in general wastewater treatment plant process design and optimization have traditionally focused on important biokinetic conversions. There is growing realization that abiotic processes occurring in the wastewater (i.e. “solvent”) have a fundamental effect on plant performance. These processes include weak acid-base reactions (ionization), spontaneous or chemical dose induced precipitate formation, chemical redox conversions, which influence pH, gas transfer, and directly or indirectly the biokinetic processes themselves. There is a large amount of fundamental information available (from chemical and other disciplines), which, due to its complexity and its diverse sources (originating from many different water and process environments), cannot be readily used in wastewater process design as yet. The authors of this position paper are participants of the WWTmod2010 Physico-Chemical workshop and other active contributors. Their objective was to outline the need, the methods, available knowledge and the fundamental approaches that would help to focus the effort of research groups to develop a physico-chemical framework specifically in support of whole-plant process modeling. The findings from the workshop, as well as the position paper are that in general, existing models such as produced by IWA for biological processes are limited by omission of key corrections such as non-ideal acid base behaviour, as well as major processes (e.g., ion precipitation). While the underlying chemistry is well understood, its applicability to wastewater applications is less well known. This justifies activities by a dedicated Task Group, with both experimental and model development activities to clarify an approach to modeling of physiochemical processes.

Keywords: chemical equilibrium; pH calculation; physico-chemical framework; precipitation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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