The use of simultaneous chemical precipitation in modified activated sludge systems exhibiting biological excess phosphate removal: Part 6: Modelling of simultaneous chemical-biological P removal - review of existing models

  • DW De Haas
  • MC Wentzel
  • GA Ekama


This paper reviews three published models for simultaneous chemical phosphorus precipitation in activated sludge systems using metal salts. In the first, a chemical equilibrium approach is used, based on observations made from batch and continuous-flow tests, a theoretical formula for metal (e.g. ferric) hydroxy-phosphate and a set of metal phosphate complexes or ion pairs for dissolved orthophosphate (orthoP) species. Apart from applying the precipitation stoichiometry observed in admixture with activated sludge, in this model no interaction between the chemical and biological mechanisms is accounted for and no biological processes are modelled. In the second model, a combined equilibrium-kinetic approach is used to model the chemical and biological processes. The chemical and biological processes become kinetically linked through soluble orthoP as a variable. This model includes biological processes for conventional activated sludge systems, but does not include biological excess P removal processes (BEPR). Apart from this limitation, a potential problem in the combined equilibrium-kinetic approach was identified: The precipitation reactions were modelled based on equilibrium chemistry and assumed to be complete at the start of simulation; precipitate, therefore, could not form dynamically during the ensuing kinetic simulation. Furthermore, the model predictions were very sensitive to the choice of certain key equilibrium (or solubility product) constants. The third approach was to model the precipitation (and dissolution) reactions as kinetic processes within a fully kinetic model for activated systems, including the processes for BEPR. This approach depends on the appropriate selection of rate constants for the forward (precipitation) and reverse (dissolution) reactions. In effect, a number of reactions from equilibrium chemistry are combined and replaced with one "surrogate" reaction having its own apparent equilibrium constant. The kinetic approach offers a number of advantages but is still subject to the limitation that it requires calibration against actual data from activated sludge systems in which simultaneous precipitation is applied. Moreover, interaction between the chemical and biological P removal mechanisms in the model is confined to "competition" for available soluble orthoP. This aspect requires further examination.

WaterSA Vol.27(2) 2001: 135-150

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eISSN: 0378-4738