Microscale Hydrodynamic Analysis of Aerobic Granules in the Mass Transfer Process

Li Liu, Wen-Wei Li, Guo-Ping Sheng, Zhi-Feng Liu, Raymond J. Zeng, Jun-Xin Liu, Han-Qing Yu, Duu-Jong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The internal structure of aerobic granules has a significant impact on the hydrodynamic performance and mass transfer process, and severely affects the efficiency and stability of granules-based reactors for wastewater treatment. In this study, for the first time the granule complex structure was correlated with the hydrodynamic performance and substrates reactions process. First, a series of multiple fluorescence stained confocal laser scanning microscopy images of aerobic granules were obtained. Then, the form and structure of the entire granule was reconstructed. A three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics study was carried out for the hydrodynamic analysis. Two different models were developed on the basis of different fluorescence stained confocal laser scanning microscopy images to elucidate the roles of the granule structure in the hydrodynamic and mass transfer processes of aerobic granules. The fluid flow behavior, such as the velocity profiles, the pathlines and hence the hydrodynamic drag force, exerted on the granule in a Newtonian fluid, was studied by varying the Reynolds number. Furthermore, the spatial distribution of dissolved nutrients (e.g., oxygen) was acquired by solving the convection-diffusion equations on the basis of the reconstructed granule structure. This study demonstrates that the reconstructed granule model could offer a better understanding to the mass transfer process of aerobic granules than simply considering the granule structure to be homogeneous.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Issue number19
Pages (from-to)7555-7560
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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