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Troubleshooting in a full-scale wastewater treatment plant: what can be learnt from tracer tests

Collivignarelli, M. C., Bertanza, G., Abbà, A., Damiani, S.
International journal of environmental science and technology 2019 v.16 no.7 pp. 3455-3466
denitrification, foaming, hydrodynamics, mixers, sludge, tracer techniques, wastewater treatment
The experimental assessment of the actual reactor hydrodynamic behavior is aimed at detecting possible deviations from the design configuration, as well as suggesting corrective/improving modifications, efficacy of which can be also assessed in the aftermath. The hydrodynamic scheme can be defined by means of tracer tests (stimulus–response method) used for detecting the residence time distribution curve. This study shows the results of three hydrodynamic tests performed on a wastewater treatment plant half-line, in which a biological process (denitrification and oxidation–nitrification) is carried out. Hydrodynamic faults (in terms of dead space and/or flow bypass) were identified, and consequent actions suggested (i.e., change in submerged mixers orientation in the reactors; sinking of the final section of the sludge recirculation pipe below the free surface to avoid foaming phenomena; introduction of new mixed liquor recirculation lines). These actions, together with a careful selection of wastes to be treated, led to an improvement of the overall process performance.