Assessment of alkaline stabilization processes in industrial waste streams using a model-based approach

Vicente Monje, Per Nobel, Helena Junicke, Kasper Kjellberg, Krist V. Gernaey, Xavier Flores-Alsina*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Chemical conditioning prior to disposal is a common practice in biotech companies to stabilize the biological waste generated during production. Nevertheless, the state of the art models used to analyze management strategies in water treatment systems (WTS) do not include the effect of high alkaline conditions during bio-solids processing. In this paper, the prediction capabilities of a novel model-based approach describing the effect of quicklime addition (CaO) on the waste streams of an industrial WTS is assessed. Two measuring campaigns were carried out taking samples of TSS, VSS and total/soluble COD, N, P, S and multiple metals before and after chemical stabilization, and dewatering under and overflow. Mass balances were set up and Sankey diagrams were generated to represent the occurrence, transformation and fate of the major compounds within the studied facility. A simulation model was used to predict plant at different locations. Next, a scenario analysis was carried out in order to assess potential alternatives to the current operational practice. The resulting mass balances show a mismatch between the system's input and output up to 17%. It was also possible to identify different types of compound-behavior depending on the effect that high pH induced on the soluble and particulate fractions: hydrolysis, precipitation and unaltered. Model predictions and measurements differed 9.6% (steady state) and 12.4% (dynamic state) respectively. Finally, in the scenario analysis, the model suggested that the change from quicklime to sodium hydroxide (NaOH) would increase the quantity of organics in the dewatered cake (+23%), but with a considerable increase in chemical consumption (+50%). The selective stabilization of the incoming streams has the lowest use of chemicals (−30%) and reduces the load of CODsol (−13%) and TNsol (−14%) recirculated to the water line of the WWTP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112806
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Industrial wastewater
  • Sankey diagrams
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Mass balancing
  • Quicklime stabilization


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