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Economic Implications of Fine-Pore Diffuser Aging

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Aerobic biological treatment, such as the activated sludge process, is commonly used for municipal wastewater treatment. Fine-pore diffusers have virtually replaced coarse-bubble diffusers in such operations, but most of the plant's energy expenditure is still consumed by aeration. Therefore, the performance of diffusers will critically affect plant economics. This paper analyzes and quantifies the consequences of aging processes on fine-pore diffusers. Datasets from 94 field measurements were analyzed and showed a clear pattern of performance decline with time in operation. Efficiency declines rapidly during the first 24 months of operation when the rate of decline decreases and efficiency stabilizes at a low value. For example, cost analysis scenarios were performed using the measured rate of decline in diffuser performance. The analyses include loss of transfer efficiency and elevated headloss, which both increase operating cost. Cleaning the diffusers within 12 months of operation is generally economically favorable, restores efficiency, and reduces power overhead. Periodic cleaning prolongs the economically viable lifespan for the aeration system.

Keywords: aeration; economics; fine pore; fouling; oxygen transfer

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-08-01

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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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