The aim of this innovative Fellowship is to provide the water industry with a robust yet straightforward technique, based on novel developments in the field of fluorescence spectroscopy, to optimize wastewater treatment works performance, to reduce energy consumption and to monitor final effluent quality in real time.
The treatment of wastewater is an energy-intensive operation. The largest energy usage in wastewater treatment is found in the aeration of settled sewage in the activated sludge process (ASP) which, in isolation, contributes to over half of the energy costs associated with wastewater treatment. Currently, the process is monitored by dissolved oxygen or ammonia probes, but performance of these probes is variable and affected by location and hostile conditions in the plant. Consequently, water utilities often over-aerate in order to achieve compliance with final effluent standards. Therefore, there is a need to optimize the management of ASPs and, specifically, to optimize aeration control in order to minimize energy consumption whilst maintaining final effluent compliance.
We will quantify the relationships between the fluorescence of wastewater at several stages of treatment and standard parameters (biological oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand) in the laboratory and at full scale. We will apply these relationships to the real-time operation of wastewater treatment works to provide a real-time control system. Meeting the project aim will deliver an appropriate technology, requiring minimal operator training, which will improve control of the ASP and minimise over-aeration, thereby offering tangible environmental and financial benefits and assisting the industry in meeting the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive.
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