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Application of Computational Fluid Dynamics to Closed-Loop Bioreactors: I. Characterization and Simulation of Fluid-Flow Pattern and Oxygen Transfer

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A full-scale, closed-loop bioreactor (Orbal oxidation ditch, Envirex brand technologies, Siemens, Waukesha, Wisconsin), previously examined for simultaneous biological nutrient removal (SBNR), was further evaluated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). A CFD model was developed first by imparting the known momentum (calculated by tank fluid velocity and mass flowrate) to the fluid at the aeration disc region. Oxygen source (aeration) and sink (consumption) terms were introduced, and statistical analysis was applied to the CFD simulation results. The CFD model was validated with field data obtained from a test tank and a full-scale tank. The results indicated that CFD could predict the mixing pattern in closed-loop bioreactors. This enables visualization of the flow pattern, both with regard to flow velocity and dissolved-oxygen-distribution profiles. The velocity and oxygen-distribution gradients suggested that the flow patterns produced by directional aeration in closed-loop bioreactors created a heterogeneous environment that can result in dissolved oxygen variations throughout the bioreactor. Distinct anaerobic zones on a macroenvironment scale were not observed, but it is clear that, when flow passed around curves, a secondary spiral flow was generated. This second current, along with the main recirculation flow, could create alternating anaerobic and aerobic conditions vertically and horizontally, which would allow SBNR to occur. Reliable SBNR performance in Orbal oxidation ditches may be a result, at least in part, of such a spatially varying environment.

Keywords: computational fluid dynamics; heterogeneous; nitrogen; nutrient removal; oxidation ditch; phosphorus; simultaneous

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: *Department of Environmental Science, Rutgers University (at time of research); CDM, 2 Penn Center, 1500 JFK Boulevard, Suite 624, Philadelphia, PA 19102; 2: CH2M HILL, Englewood, Colorado. 3: Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University.

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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  • 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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