Dynamic calibration of a new secondary settler model using Cand. Microthrix as predictor of settling velocity

Yuge Qiu, Thomas Hug, Dorottya S. Wágner, Barth F. Smets, Borja Valverde-Pérez, Benedek G. Plósz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Climate change is projected to increase the frequency of hydraulic shocks on urban water systems, affecting water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). In these facilities, the settleability of activated sludge is a critical hydraulic bottleneck. However, to date, the dynamic prediction of hindered settling velocity (v0/rH) has remained unresolved. To address this significant knowledge gap, this study presents an assessment of microbial community predictors of hindered settling velocity. Through a regression analysis of independent laboratory and full-scale experimental data, we identified a close association between the relative abundance of Candidatus Microthrix filamentous bacteria and hindered settling velocity parameter values. While no direct association was observed between filamentous abundance and compression settling parameters, we propose linking the dynamic calibration of the compressive solid stress function to v0/rH. Notably, our results demonstrate, for the first time, the efficacy of dynamic calibration of SST models using the relative abundance of filamentous microbial predictors in a simulation model of the Kloten-Opfikon full-scale WRRF. Furthermore, besides Cand. Microthrix, Thiothrix is found to be a putative predictor for biomolecular SST calibration. These findings shed light on the potential of microbial communities to predict hindered settling velocity in WRRFs and offer valuable insights for improving wastewater treatment processes in the face of climate change challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120664
JournalWater Research
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Activated sludge settling velocity
  • Cand. Microthrix parvicella
  • Filamentous bulking
  • One-dimensional modelling
  • Secondary settling tank
  • Water resource recovery facility
  • Process modelling


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