A model for the description of the SS distribution in a full-scale recirculating activated sludge WWTP was developed. The model, based on conservation principles, uses on-line plant data as model inputs, and provides a prediction of the SS load in the inlet to the secondary clarifiers and the SS distribution in the WWTP as outputs. The calibrated model produces excellent predictions of the SS load to the secondary clarifiers, an essential variable for the operation of the aeration tank settling (ATS) process. A case study illustrated how the calibrated SS distribution model can be used to evaluate the potential benefit of ATS implementation on a full-scale recirculating WWTP. A reduction of the maximum SS peak load to the secondary clarifiers with 24.9% was obtained with ATS, whereas the cumulative SS load to the clarifiers is foreseen to be reduced with 22.5% for short rain events (4 hours duration) and with 16.6% for long rain events (24 hours duration). The SS distribution model is a useful tool for off-line studies of the potential benefits to be obtained by introducing ATS on a recirculating WWTP. Finally, the successful operation of the ATS process on the full-scale plant is illustrated with data.

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