Characterization and modelling of primary settlers have been neglected pretty much to date. However, whole plant and resource recovery modelling requires primary settler model development, as current models lack detail in describing the dynamics and the diversity of the removal process for different particulate fractions. This paper focuses on the improved modelling and experimental characterization of primary settlers. First, a new modelling concept based on particle settling velocity distribution is proposed which is then applied for the development of an improved primary settler model as well as for its characterization under addition of chemicals (chemically enhanced primary treatment, CEPT). This model is compared to two existing simple primary settler models (Otterpohl and Freund; Lessard and Beck), showing to be better than the first one and statistically comparable to the second one, but with easier calibration thanks to the ease with which wastewater characteristics can be translated into model parameters. Second, the changes in the activated sludge model (ASM)-based chemical oxygen demand fractionation between inlet and outlet induced by primary settling is investigated, showing that typical wastewater fractions are modified by primary treatment. As they clearly impact the downstream processes, both model improvements demonstrate the need for more detailed primary settler models in view of whole plant modelling.

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