The hydrodynamic behaviour of a full-scale wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) bioreactor treating municipal wastewater, situated in Granollers (Barcelona, Spain), has been studied by means of a residence time distribution (RTD) technique using lithium (chloride) as tracer. The bioreactor studied is designed to work as a plug-flow reactor and it is divided into two independent lanes (1 and 2), each one composed of four compartments in series resulting in a total volume of 3970 m3 per lane. During the RTD experiments, working flow was 1000 m3 h-1 per lane, which implied an ideal mean residence time of 3.97 h. When a lithium chloride tracer was injected in the bioreactor, both lanes showed a similar highly non-ideal hydrodynamic behaviour, which had an important effect on the reactor's performance. This global RTD was complemented by means of local RTDs in different locations of the bioreactor in order to determine qualitatively the reactor's mixing regime. Different non-ideal models (namely axial dispersion, tanks-in-series and some simple compartment models) have been tested for the modelling of the experimental RTD. The best model fitting RTD data for Lanes 1 and 2 was a configuration consisting of four mixed tanks in series. The RTD study proposed in this work will permit improvement of the reactor's mixing performance, which is of special interest in future projects including simultaneous removal of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. © 2005 Society of Chemical Industry.
- Flow modelling
- Hydrodynamic behaviour
- Mixed tank
- Plug-flow reactor (PFR)
- Residence time distribution (RTD)
- Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP)