Anaerobic treatment of wastewater in a UASB reactor

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: The anaerobic treatment of waste water has been studied with an emphasis on the Up- flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) reactor. A model to describe the processes occurring in a UASB reactor was developed and an experimental study of the anaerobic wastewater treatment systems in Nicaragua was also performed.Experimental work was carried out in order to link the study to the wastewater treatment situation in Nicaragua, a developing country. In order to assess the performance of the treatment plants, the methanogenic activity of sludge from seven anaerobic wastewater treatment plants was first addressed. Due to a lack of Standards for the measurement of methanogenic activity, a laboratory method was developed based on the methods found in the literature. An additional aim of this study was to find adequate inoculum for the wastewater treatment plant in a brewery using an anaerobic reactor. Physic-chemical characteristics of the sludge were also determined to provide a basis for decisions regarding the agricultural employment of the sludge from the treatment plants.A one-dimensional model describing the physical and biological processes occurring in an Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket reactor has been developed. These processes are advection, dispersion and reaction in the granule, including mass transport at the interface and diffusion within the particle. The advection-dispersion equation is used to describe these phenomena in the reactor. Dispersion is mainly caused by the gas bubbles rising up through the reactor and the granules in the ascending flow. The extent of the dispersion is expressed by the dimensionless Peclet (Pe) number. It is assumed that the biological degradation takes place at the surface and within the granules. The processes occurring in the granules formed by the microorganisms are described in detail; they include diffusion in the stagnant film around the granule, diffusion within the particle, and a degradation reaction. From these processes, the reaction term is analytically determined. The granules were modelled as spherical porous biocatalysts of different sizes. The biochemical degradation reactions were assumed to follow Monod type kinetics of the first order. For the numerical solution of the model, a standard program was used (Within MATLAB). The model was applied to some experimental data taken from the literature.An important characteristic of the model is that it can simultaneously take into account reactions in granules of different sizes. At present, the parameters of the model are calculated using data from the literature; but experimental measurements of the main parameters are planned. The impact of the different parameters was studied by numerical simulation and its validity was tested using experimental data reported in the literature. The model could be a useful tool in the performance optimization of UASB reactors by predicting the influences of different operational parameters.