Mechanically aerated lagoons (used for wastewater treatment in the pulp and paper industry) are typically very large (>500,000 m3) and have complex three-dimensional fluid flow patterns due to mechanical agitation, sludge accumulation, internal baffling, and confined inlet/outlet flow channels. RTD data is frequently used for evaluation of hydraulic performance. however, obtaining accurate data with traditional dye measurements is a difficult and time-consuming process. Moreover, the mixing impact of factors such as aerator positions, sludge accumulation, and internal baffles would require a significant and costly number of local field measurements. Recent applications of CFD to mechanically aerated lagoons have helped engineers to understand the complex flow interactions. This paper provides a practical method for the evaluation of the hydraulic performance of large mechanically aerated lagoons using CFD. A method, based on random-walk Lagrangian particle tracking, has been developed to significantly shorten the computational time needed to produce RTD curves for these lagoons. Comparison of the particle method with the more conventional scalar transport yields excellent results. These methods allow wastewater engineers to combine their existing knowledge and expertise with the established power of CFD. The results quantify the hydraulic impact of different inlet/outlet configurations, aerator configurations, influent flow rates, and bottom sludge profiles.

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