The hydraulic characteristics of aeration tanks in WWTPs have a major impact on the degradation of pollutants, as well as on the control of the aeration. In particular in long reactors, which are not separated by baffles, hydraulic shortcuts or large scale recirculation can lead to a loss of performance. This work demonstrates that reactive tracers such as ammonium and oxygen can be used to investigate the hydraulics of aeration tanks in detail. With the use of electrochemical sensors it is possible to investigate effects in a broad range of time scales.
In the present case study a slow oscillation of the aeration control loop was investigated. Large scale recirculation in the aeration tank and fast fluctuations of the ammonium concentrations close to the oxygen sensor were identified as the cause of these oscillations. Both, the recirculation as well as the fluctuation of the ammonium have a substantial influence on the performance of the aeration tank and the aeration control loop.