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Resource Recovery and Municipal Wastewater Treatment: Modeling of a New Approach

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A municipal wastewater treatment flowsheet concept has been developed which achieves goals of energy sustainability and water and nutrient recovery, while minimizing residual solids production and the release of GHGs. The new flowsheet detailed here integrates established biological and physical-chemical process systems in a unique fashion which allows for conversion of the organic carbon in the wastewater to methane, the removal and recovery of phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater, and the production of water suitable for reuse. A model of the new flowsheet has been developed in GPS-X and helps provide confidence in the validity of many of the claimed advantages of the new flowsheet. The modeling results imply that 80 percent of the wastewater COD can be shunted to the anaerobic digestion step of the flowsheet and the flowsheet can reduce residual solids production by 45 percent in comparison to conventional methods. The new flowsheet has a significant advantage over conventional treatment with respect to the treatment plant energy balance. It is estimated the new flowsheet will reduce the energy required for treatment plant operation by over 99 percent. The energy balance implies a potential to generate energy in the treatment of municipal wastewater provided a more energy efficient MBR membrane system specific to this low SRT application can be developed. The results of a model-based sensitivity analysis suggest that the expected limitations in adsorption, bioflocculation, and hydrolysis at low SRTs, the wastewater characteristics, and the FP pretreatment system performance are all significant in determining the level of COD shunting and should be confirmed at pilot-scale or full-scale.
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Keywords: Municipal wastewater treatment; energy sustainability; modeling; resource recovery; simulation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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