Development of a deterministic design model for a high-rate algal pond
Inadequate wastewater treatment is a major problem in South Africa. Existing wastewater treatment facilities often lack sufficient skilled labour, resulting in partially treated effluent. Increasing eutrophication in surface water bodies indicates that this problem needs rectification. The characteristics of the high-rate algal pond (HRAP) technology makes it an attractive option for effluent polishing in South Africa. It has the potential of simultaneous nutrient removal and nutrient recovery from partially treated effluent. A deterministic design model based on the mutualistic relationship between bacteria and algae in an HRAP was developed. The model includes kinetics of algae, ordinary heterotrophic organisms (OHOs), as well as ammoniaoxidising organisms (ANOs) and their interaction with organic compounds, nitrogen and phosphorus. After preliminary verifications, it was found that the deterministic model accurately represented the kinetics involved with the ammonia and nitrate/nitrite concentrations. However, it was also established that the major limitations of the deterministic model are its exclusion of phosphate precipitation and its failure to incorporate the production of particulate and soluble organics due to the respiration, excretion and mortality processes.
Keywords: high rate algal pond, HRAP, deterministic model, modelling, algae, nutrient removal, eutrophication prevention, effluent polishing