Validation of a plant-wide phosphorus modelling approach with minerals precipitation in a full-scale WWTP

Christian Kazadi Mbamba, Xavier Flores Alsina, Damien John Batstone, Stephan Tait

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The focus of modelling in wastewater treatment is shifting from single unit to plant-wide scale. Plant wide modelling approaches provide opportunities to study the dynamics and interactions of different transformations in water and sludge streams. Towards developing more general and robust simulation tools applicable to a broad range of wastewater engineering problems, this paper evaluates a plant-wide model built with sub-models from the Benchmark Simulation Model No. 2-P (BSM2-P) with an improved/expanded physico-chemical framework (PCF). The PCF includes a simple and validated equilibrium approach describing ion speciation and ion pairing with kinetic multiple minerals precipitation. Model performance is evaluated against data sets from a full-scale wastewater treatment plant, assessing capability to describe water and sludge lines across the treatment process under steady-state operation. With default rate kinetic and stoichiometric parameters, a good general agreement is observed between the full-scale datasets and the simulated results under steady-state conditions. Simulation results show differences between measured and modelled phosphorus as little as 4-15% (relative) throughout the entire plant. Dynamic influent profiles were generated using a calibrated influent generator and were used to study the effect of long-term influent dynamics on plant performance. Model-based analysis shows that minerals precipitation strongly influences composition in the anaerobic digesters, but also impacts on nutrient loading across the entire plant. A forecasted implementation of nutrient recovery by struvite crystallization (model scenario only), reduced the phosphorus content in the treatment plant influent (via centrate recycling) considerably and thus decreased phosphorus in the treated outflow by up to 43%. Overall, the evaluated plant-wide model is able to jointly describe the physico-chemical and biological processes, and is advocated for future use as a tool for design, performance evaluation and optimization of whole wastewater treatment plants. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Pages (from-to)169-183
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Plant-wide model
  • Phosphorus
  • Physico-chemistry
  • Minerals precipitation
  • Nutrient recovery
  • BSM2

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