This paper presents a physical evaluation of an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor. Specifically, the study contemplates the region influenced by the wastewater inlet jets at the bottom of the reactor, here termed the near-field area. A three-dimensional physical model of a UASB reactor in reduced scale, geometrically and dynamically correlated to a full-scale prototype was used in the evaluation. From the analysis of the major forces acting and of the physical properties investigated in the prototype, it was possible to establish non-dimensional relations that were applied to the reduced scale model, allowing the investigation of the phenomenon of interest. Tests were developed on the model to visualise the inlet flows under the buoyant effect at the bottom of the reactor, through the injection of a tracer fluid in the area with higher density, simulating the effects of the sludge bed. Based on the experimental results, it was possible to provide dimensioning criteria for the jet distribution system in UASB reactors.

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