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Effect of Bubble-Induced Surface Turbulence on Gas–Liquid Mass Transfer in Diffused Aeration Systems

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Models that predict volatilization of organic compounds from wastewater treatment basins may underestimate emission rates if the surfaces are considered as quiescent. In reality, the water surface may be agitated by subsurface aeration, increasing mass transfer across the tank surface air–water interface. This study investigated the effect of turbulence, induced by diffused bubble aeration, on mass transfer at the water surface of a pilot aeration basin. The mass transfer of ammonia from an enclosed headspace over the basin to acidified water was measured when different diffuser types and airflow rates were applied. Oxygen-transfer tests were conducted immediately following each ammonia-transfer test. Increasing airflow rates through fine- and coarse-bubble diffusers had a significant effect on the ammonia mass-transfer rate. Experimental mass-transfer parameters (KLa's) for surface volatilization derived with aeration present were up to 48% higher than the KLa values for quiescent conditions over the range of conditions tested. No effect of diffuser type on ammonia transfer could be determined. The study results infer an effect on oxygen transfer into the water at the surface and potential transfer of volatile organic compounds, if present, from the water. The results of the ammonia mass-transfer experiments suggest that adjustments to the existing mass transfer correlations for surface volatilization from aeration basins may be in order. Such adjustments will have the greatest effect on predictions for the less volatile compounds, under conditions of low airflow rates.
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Keywords: aeration; diffuser; mass transfer; model; volatile organic compound; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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