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Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2009, 48, 78427846

Approximate Method for Designing a Primary Settling Tank for Wastewater Treatment
Gloria Martnez-Gonzalez, Herbert Lora-Molina, David Taboada-Lopez, Francisco Ramrez-Rodrguez, Jose Lus Navarrete-Bolanos, and Hugo Jimenez-Islas*
Departamento de Ingeniera Qumica-Bioqumica, Instituto Tecnologico de Celaya, AVe. Tecnologico y Garca Cubas s/n, Celaya, Gto. 38010, Mexico

An approximate method based on an analogous Ficks law mass transport model was derived to predict the concentration proles of suspended particles in a primary sedimentation tank for wastewater treatment as a function of time and column height. A pilot sedimentation column was constructed to test wastewater sedimentation and obtain the necessary data for the proposed model. The examined variables included the total suspended solids concentration, the sedimentation height, and the time elapsed. Computer code was developed to estimate the dispersion coefcient present in the sedimentation model from experimental data via least-squares regression, resulting in a relative error of 3.705%. The proposed model was validated by good agreement with reported data in the literature. The basic dimensions for designing a primary sedimentation tank were obtained based on the experimental data from wastewater samples obtained by a wastewater collector located in the industrial zone of Celaya City, Mexico. This methodology can be successfully applied for designing primary sedimentation tanks for wastewater treatment facilities.
1. Introduction Sedimentation is a crucial stage of domestic and industrial wastewater treatment in which suspended particles are separated from a liquid by gravity. Consequently, sedimentation is one of the most frequently used unit operations for the clarication of residual water. The physical phenomenon associated with the gravitational precipitation of solid particles in a liquid has been widely studied. The equation describing the velocity of sedimentation, formulated by Stokes in 1851,1 is the starting point for analyzing sedimentation. From this incipient formulation, diverse assays have been performed to nd a mathematical model to explain sedimentation. Hazen2 introduced the surface loading concept in 1904 and analyzed sedimentation factors for solid particles contained in diluted water solutions. In 1952, Kynch3 proposed a kinetic theory of sedimentation based on concentration changes in a suspension. In recent years, studies have been conducted examining the properties of sedimentation processes for ideal and occulating suspensions at Universidad de Concepcion in Chile and Universitat Stuttgart in Germany.4 In spite of these advances that are proposed to unify studies on sedimentation of dispersed and occulating suspensions, there are not suitable equations to simulate the settling phenomenon in wastewater archetypes and facilitate the design of sedimentation tanks.4 Therefore, exhaustive experimental measurements are required for the construction of solid-removal curves for the calculation of dimensions for primary settlings.5 Additionally, several experiments are required to obtain solid-removal contour plots at different heights and times, which are also required for construct charts that describe the total solid-removal percentage in the tank at a given time. This procedure is laborious because it is necessary to have a large amount of experimental data to obtain plots with acceptable accuracy.6 Rigorous models based in computational uid dynamics (CFD) are used to predict ow patterns and suspended solid distributions within sedimentation tanks.7,8 These are normally used to nd the relationship between the tank hydraulics and
* To whom correspondence should be addressed. Phone: +52 (461) 6117575. Fax: +52 (461) 6117979. E-mail: hugo@itc.mx.

the process efciency. The use of CFD-based models has not been common due to the inherent complexity of the corrected Navier-Stokes equations for turbulent ow8,9 and the costs associated with the specialized hardware and software required; however, there have been reports of simplied models including empirical parameters.10-12 Currently, few industrial organizations use CFD techniques to study ow phenomena in their wastewater treatment facilities due to the high cost of commercial licenses of CFD software.13 Thus, the objective of this study was to develop an approximate and feasible mathematical model that allows for the prediction of concentration proles of suspended particles based on time and height measurements in a sedimentation column, without the need for conventional experimental-plotting procedures. Model Description. Wastewater is considered as an incompressible and Newtonian uid within the sedimentation column shown in Figure 1, containing particles of equal size and density (component A). These particles ow toward the bottom of the column by gravity. The settling velocity is assumed to be constant, and occulation effects are assumed to be negligible. Equation 1 describes a microscopic mass balance using Ficks law adapted to macrodispersion, as reported by Johnson and DePaolo,14 Beg et al.,15 and Ginn et al.16 The dispersion coefcient, DE, includes turbulence effects caused by particles and gravity and was considered constant. Thus, the continuity equation for component (A) was as follows. CA + (v CA) ) DE2CA + RA t (1)

where v ) Vzk. Additional assumptions for the proposed sedimentation model are as follows: 1. Solid dispersion is equal for particles of equal size throughout the liquid. 2. Solid dispersion occurs in the vertical direction, z; thus, the particle concentration is only a function of the time and column height, CA ) CA(z, t).

10.1021/ie801869b CCC: $40.75 2009 American Chemical Society Published on Web 07/24/2009

Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Vol. 48, No. 16, 2009


Re )

| |

dVzFL ) 0.873699 < 2 L


2. Experimental Section A collector was located at the industrial zone of Celaya City, Mexico, where six wastewater samples of 30 L were taken every two days for a period of twelve days.5,6 After sampling, we ran an assay in a pilot column with a height of 1.8 m and a diameter of 0.1524 m, as suggested in the literature.19 The column was constructed with ve sampling ports equally distributed along the column. In order to avoid water spillage, a funnel was placed at the top of the column. At the bottom of the column, there was a 1-in. cavity for sludge removal after each experiment. The column and accessories were constructed with sanitary PVC. In each assay, samples were removed from each port at time intervals of 5, 30, 45, 60, and 90 min. The developed model was used to design a sedimentation tank for the wastewater collector mentioned above. This was intended to suggest an alternative solution to the contamination problems existing in this region.20 The experimental procedure was carried out as follows: 1. For each sample, the initial suspended solid concentration (SST0 at t ) 0) was determined according to the Mexican Ofcial Norm NMX-AA-034-SCFI-2001. 2. The column was lled with residual water, and before testing, the particles were maintained in a uniform suspension by injecting compressed air. 3. The column was operated for 90 min before the air inlet was closed. Samples were taken from each sampling port at 5, 30, 45, 60, and 90 min. 4. The suspended solid content was measured for each sample. The following dimensionless groups were proposed to nondimensionalize eq 2: ) z L ) t tC C* ) CA CA0 (8)

Figure 1. Schematic of analyzed system, including initial and boundary conditions in the sedimentation column.

3. There are no chemical reactions, RA ) 0; at t ) 0, CA ) CA0; at z ) L and t > 0, CA ) 0. At z ) 0, the solid ux is equal to zero because the bottom of the column is closed. 4. Radial dispersion is negligible due to a particle density greater than 1 and a height/diameter ratio greater than 10. On the basis of these assumptions, eq 1 reduces to eq 2. CA 2CA CA ) DE + Vz 2 t z z (2)

The term Vz is referred to as the terminal velocity of particles and takes into account Stokess law; for its calculation, it was necessary to dene values for FS, FL, d, and L. FS was dened as 2.65 kg/m3, a typical density of sand;5 FL and L at 20 C were dened as 1000 kg/m3 and 0.001014 kg/m s, respectively; and, the particle diameter, d, was dened as 0.0001 m (100 m), an average value based on reported sedimentation processes.6,19 Here, Vz was obtained from Stokess law: g(FS - FL)d2 Vz ) ) -0.008859 m/s 18 (3)

Substituting these groups results in a dimensionless form of eq 2: 2C* C* C* )R 2 + where the dimensionless coefcients are given by R) DEtC L2 VztC L (10) (9)

In Equation 2, the velocity, Vz, is negative due to effects from the model solution, which is also considered by Bustos et al.1 in their proposed dynamic models. Equation 2 has been obtained by Pritchard17 and Mucha et al.18 using their own reference system, which is used in this work. Initial conditions: t ) 0, CA(z, 0) ) CA0, 0 < z < L (4)


and the boundary conditions become ) 0, C*


) 0,



Boundary condition 1: z ) 0, Boundary condition 2: z ) L, CA(L, t) ) 0, t>0 (6) CA z

Using Kynchs3 boundary condition at ) 1, we have


) 0,



) 1,

C*| )1 ) 0,



and the following initial condition: ) 0, C*(, 0) ) 1, 0<<1 (14)

3. Results and Discussion The suspended solid concentrations measured at different times and heights were standardized by dividing them by the

The Reynolds number was obtained from eq 7. Since Re < 2, the use of Stokess law was validated.


Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Vol. 48, No. 16, 2009

Table 1. Average Concentrations of Total Suspended Solids at Different Times and Column Heightsa total suspended solids (kg/m3) at the indicated column height (given by the sampling ports). time (s) 0 300 1800 2700 3600 5400 0.3 m 2.06 2.02 1.85 1.74 1.63 1.47 0.6 m 2.06 2.00 1.78 1.66 1.54 1.37 0.9 m 2.06 1.94 1.65 1.52 1.40 1.25 1.2 m 2.06 1.86 1.49 1.36 1.22 1.08 1.5 m 2.06 1.75 1.28 1.14 1.02 0.90 1.8 m 2.06 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

XRT ) (1 - xR0) +


h dx H R


a Average initial concentration of the total suspended solids ) 2.06 kg/m3, standard deviation ) 1.14. Flow average ) 14.30 L/s, standard deviation) 6.41.

where XRT is the total fraction of removed solids at a certain time and xR0 is the fraction of solids remaining at the deepest part of the sedimentation tank, when h ) H. The second term in eq 15 cannot be calculated directly by analytical or numerical methods because an algebraic expression for h/H based on xR is not available. However, because equal intervals of h/H are used, the integral presented in eq 15 can be calculated by reducing it to the total area of the graph shown in Figure 2 to perform the desired integration, which is shown in eq 16. XRT ) (1 - xR0) +

Table 2. Predicted Concentrations Given by the Proposed Mathematical Modela total suspended solids (kg/m3) at the indicated column height. time (s) 0 300 1800 2700 3600 5400 0.3 2.0566 2.0221 1.7981 1.6759 1.5619 1.3569 0.6 2.0566 2.0016 1.7798 1.6587 1.5460 1.3431 0.9 2.0566 1.9381 1.7231 1.6059 1.4968 1.3003 1.2 2.0566 1.7604 1.5649 1.4585 1.3593 1.1809 1.5 2.0566 1.2805 1.1381 1.0607 0.9886 0.8588 1.8 2.0566 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000


h ( H ) dx

) (1 - xR0) + AT -

xR d

h (H)


a Average initial concentration of the total suspended solids ) 2.0566 kg/m3. Flow average ) 14.3039 L/s.

The total area of the plot is calculated by multiplying the maximum value for both variables, xR0 per xR and 1 per h/H. Simpsons 3/8 rule with n ) 24 was employed to calculate the denite integrals in eq 16. On the basis of the information provided by Tchobanoglous and Crites,18 the XRT values calculated by eq 16 were tted by nonlinear regression to a hyperbolic function of the total removal fraction, XRT, as indicated in eq 17: XRT ) t a + bt (17)

initial concentration to obtain the fractions xR. Later, for every time and height, the corresponding fraction was averaged according to the six initial concentrations as shown in Table 1. These average values were used to t the dispersion coefcient in the sedimentation model given by eq 9. The sedimentation model was solved via nite differences method with 24 discretization nodes in the z direction and using Marquardts algorithm21 to perform nonlinear estimation of DE. Mesh analysis revealed the suitability of this discretization scheme. In order to t the dispersion coefcient, Marquardts algorithm was linked to a code developed in FORTRAN 90, named OPTI-PF1, which solves the proposed model and calculates the dispersion coefcient by comparing the model predictions (Table 2) with the experimental results shown in Table 1. The estimated value for the dispersion coefcient was 0.002 723 63 m2/s with an average relative error of 3.707%. This value includes turbulence effects caused by the particles and gravity. Subsequently, the tted parameter was used in the sedimentation model to generate particle removal proles based on time and the height of the tank. Equation 9 was subsequently spatially discretized by central nite differences of second order, producing a system of ordinary differential equations. This set of differential equations was solved with a FORTRAN 90 code named PARFIN that solves a set of parabolic nonlinear partial differential equations using an explicit Runge-KuttaFehlberg method with an adaptive integration step. Equation 9 was solved by selecting a characteristic time of 5400 s, corresponding to the time in which all experiments were performed. The equation was then integrated from 0.0 to 1.0 over 1000 intervals with a truncation error of 10-5. The concentration variations of the removed solids are shown in Figure 2. With this information, an approximate design for a sedimentation tank can be proposed using both the model results and the conventional tank design procedure suggested by Ramalho.5 Thus, the collected data from the sedimentation model has to be sorted according to depth, h, and the percentage of total removal can be obtained from eq 15.

The parameters a and b were tted as 5890.126 and 0.94873322, respectively. By replacing both parameters a and b in eq 17, eq 18 is obtained. Equation 17 exhibits good precision for values of the total solid removal, superior to 0.30, which is sufcient for sedimentation tank design.5 XRT ) t 5890.126 + 0.94873322t (18)

Figure 2. Variation of the dimensionless removed solid concentration CA/CA0 with the height of the settling column and the time of sedimentation.

Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Vol. 48, No. 16, 2009


For the subsequent design of sedimentation tanks, the surface load can be calculated from eq 19. H qs ) f t (19)

Table 3. Standard Information for Designing Cylindrical Primary Sedimentation Tanks5,18 depth detention time surface load diameter percentage of removed solids units s m3/m2 day m % typical rank 5400-9000 14-56 3-30 40-70

The surface load is tted with respect to the fraction of total solid removal using eq 20 via least-squares regression and the Marquardt21 algorithm for nonlinear estimation of parameters c and m. qs ) cXRT-m (20)

Table 4. Design Parameters for Sedimentation Tanks Based on the Residual Water from the Industrial Zone of Celaya City, Mexico parameter ow XRT detention time surface load tted detention time tted surface load sedimentation area diameter tank volume effective depth value 1235.865 0.45 4625.188 26.017 8094.079 17.345 47.502 7.777 115.778 2.437

units m /day s m3/m2 day s m3/m2 day m2 m m3 m

Equation 21 and Figure 3 show the results of the power regression. qs ) 8.1704XRT-1.4505 (21)

The surface load refers to the velocity of sedimentation expressed in units of volume per area and time units. Next, the fraction of total suspended solids removed was used to calculate the dimensions of the primary sedimentation tank for the collector in the industrial zone of Celaya. Equations 22 and 23 were used to calculate the detention time and the surface load, respectively. The results, corrected with safety factors5 for the detention time, are shown below. tr ) 1.75t qr ) qs 1.5 (22) (23)

Table 5. Comparison between the Design Parameters Reported in the Literature and Those Obtained in This Work Using the Proposed Sedimentation Model Ramrez6 parameter
ow XRT detention time surface load tted detention time tted surface load sedimentation area diameter tank volume effective depth

Eckenfelder22 units
m /day s m3/m2 day s m3/m2 day m2 m m3 m

reported calculated reported calculated

7570.820 0.667 3000.000 48.895 5250.000 32.597 232.257 17.196 460.032 1.981 7570.820 0.667 2524.357 59.010 4417.624 39.340 192.446 15.653 387.095 2.011 3785.410 0.727 6171.430 25.725 10800.000 14.700 258.000 18.124 473.176 1.834 3785.410 0.727 5250.369 28.738 9188.145 19.159 197.579 15.861 402.557 2.037

With the tted values, design parameters for the sedimentation tank were obtained, including the area, diameter, volume, and effective depth. The surface area of the tank was calculated by eq 24, where Q is the wastewater ow, which was 1235.865 m3/day in this case. Q As ) qr (24)

For a cylindrical tank, the diameter, Ds, can be obtained using eq 25. Ds ) 4As (25)

Additionally, the tank volume, Vs, is calculated with eq 26. Vs ) Qtr (26)

Finally, the effective depth of the tank is calculated according to eq 27. he ) Vs Qtr ) As As (27)

The variable he represents the depth of the tank; this is based on the time and surface load values previously tted.22 The values commonly used for primary sedimentation tanks are shown in Table 3. Table 4 shows the design results for the proposed sedimentation tank to be used in the industrial zone of Celaya City, for a removal fraction of XRT ) 0.45. To validate the obtained results, the developed model was applied to experimental data reported by Ramrez6 and Ecken felder22 with good agreement. These results are shown in Table 5. 4. Conclusions
Figure 3. Power regression (s) for the calculated surface load (0) from eq 19 as a function of the fraction of total removed solids.

A method based on an analogous Ficks Law model was proposed to estimate suspended particle concentrations as a function of the time and axial position in a settling tank. This


Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Vol. 48, No. 16, 2009 ) dimensionless coefcient ) dimensionless coefcient

method replaces the conventional experimental plotting method, requiring only the estimation of the dispersion coefcient, DE, using the least-squares method. With the prediction of isoremoval plots, the dimensions of an appropriate primary sedimentation tank can be calculated. The sedimentation model can be used to predict the proles of residual water concentration, although the initial concentrations can vary. For studying wastewaters of other origins, it is only required simple sedimentation tests be carried out to calculate the dispersion coefcient. The procedure of simulation and design is equivalent. The developed methodology was validated using data from the literature showing a good agreement. Acknowledgment The authors would like to acknowledge SES-DGEST for nancial support. Nomenclature
As ) area of the sedimentation tank, m2 A ) dimensionless parameter B ) dimensionless parameter C ) dimensionless parameter CA ) total concentration of suspended solids, kg/m3 CA0 ) total concentration of suspended solid at initial time, kg/m3 C* ) dimensionless total concentration of suspended solids D ) average diameter of spherical particles, m DE ) dispersion coefcient, m2/s Ds ) diameter of the sedimentation tank, m F ) conversion factor for units of length per time to units of volume by area and time, 86 400 (m3/m2 day)/(m/s) G ) gravity acceleration, m/s2 H ) overall depth of the sedimentation tank, m he ) effective depth of the sedimentation tank, m H ) depth of the sedimentation tank, m L ) overall height of the sedimentation tank, m M ) dimensionless parameter Q ) wastewater ow, m3/day qr ) surface load, m3/m2 day qs ) surface load, m3/m2 day RA ) chemical reaction term Re ) Reynolds number T ) detention time, s tC ) characteristic time, s tr ) tted detention time, s Vs ) volume of the sedimentation tank, m3 Vz ) velocity of sedimentation in Stokess law, m/s xR ) fraction of the total suspended solids remaining in suspension XRT ) fraction of the total suspended solids removed Z ) Cartesian coordinate, m Greek Letters L ) viscosity of the liquid, kg/m s FL ) density of the liquid, kg/m3 FS ) particle density, kg/m3 ) dimensionless height of the sedimentation column ) dimensionless time of sedimentation

Literature Cited
(1) Bustos, M. C.; Concha, F.; Burguer, R.; Tory, E. M. Sedimentation and Thickening. Phenomenological Foundation and Mathematical Theory; Kluwer Academic: Dordrecht, Holland, 1999; pp 150-210. (2) Hazen, A. On sedimentation. J. Am. Soc. Chem. Eng. 1904, 53, 45 71. (3) Kynch, G. J. A theory of sedimentation. Faraday Soc. 1952, 48, 166176. (4) Concha, F.; Burger, R. A century of research in sedimentation and thickening. Miner. Metall. Process. 2004, 20, 5767. (5) Ramalho, R. S. Introduccion a los Procesos de Tratamiento de Aguas Residuales; Reverte: Madrid, 1983; pp 99-124. (6) Ramrez, C. Tratamiento de Aguas Residuales Industriales; Coleccion libros de Texto Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana: Mexico, 1992; pp 9-21. (7) He, C.; Marsalek, J.; Rochfort, Q. Numerical Modelling of Enhancing Suspended Solids Removal in a CSO Facility. Water Qual. Res. J. Can. 2004, 39, 457465. (8) Naser, G.; Karney, B. W.; Salehi, A. A. Two-Dimensional Simulation Model of Sediment Removal and Flow in Rectangular Sedimentation Basin. J. EnViron. Eng.sASCE 2005, 131, 17401749. (9) Matko, T.; Fawcett, N.; Sharp, A.; Stephenson, T. Recent Progress in the Numerical Modelling of Wastewater Sedimentation Tanks. Process Safe. EnViron. Protect. 1996, 74, 245258. (10) Jin, Y. C.; Guo, Q. C.; Viraraghavan, T. Modeling of Class I Settling Tanks. J. EnViron. Eng.sASCE 2000, 126, 754760. (11) Guo, Q. C.; Jin, Y. C. Estimating Coefcients in One-Dimensional Depth-Averaged Sediment Transport Model. Can. J. CiVil Eng. 2001, 28, 536540. (12) Jin, Y. C.; Lu, F.; Badruzzaman, M. Simplied Model for the Class-I Settling Tanks Design. J. EnViron. Eng.sASCE 2005, 131, 1755 1759. (13) Brouckaert, C. J.; Buckley, C. A. The Use of Computational Fluid Dynamics for Improving the Design and Operation of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants. Water Sci. Technol. 1999, 40, 8189. (14) Johnson, T. M.; DePaolo, D. J. Reaction-Transport Models for Radio Carbon in Groundwater: The Effects of Longitudinal Dispersion and the Use of Sr Isotope Ratios to Correct for Water-Rock Interaction. Water Resour. Res. 1996, 32, 2203. (15) Beg, S. A.; Hassan, M. M.; Naqvi, M. S. M. Modeling of Gas Adsorption Accompanied by Chemical Reaction in Down Flow Co-current Packed Columns. Chem. Eng. Commun. 1998, 165, 4166. (16) Ginn, T. R.; Murphy, E. M.; Chilakapati, A.; Seeboonruang, U. Stochastic-Convective Transport with Nonlinear Reaction and Mixing: Application to Intermediate-Scale Experiments in Aerobic Biodegradation in Saturated Porous Media. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology. 2001, 48, 121. (17) Pritchard, D. The Rate of Deposition of Fine Sediment from Suspension. J. Hydr. Engrg. 2006, 132, 533536. (18) Mucha, P. J.; Tee, S. Y.; Weitz, D. A.; Shraiman, B. I.; Brenner, M. P. A Model for Velocity Fluctuations in Sedimentation. J. Fluid Mech. 2004, 501, 71104. (19) Tchobanoglous, G.; Crites, R. Tratamiento de Aguas Residuales en Pequenas Poblaciones; McGraw Hill: Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia, 2000; pp 114-126. (20) Lora M. H. Obtencion de un Modelo Matematico de Sedimentacion para Aguas Residuales. Tesis de maestra en Ciencias, Instituto Tecnologico de Celaya: Guanajuato, Mexico, 2005. (21) Marquardt, D. W. An algorithm for least-squares estimation of nonlinear parameters. J. Soc. Ind. Appl. Math. 1963, 2, 431441. (22) Eckenfelder, W. Industrial Water Pollution Control; McGraw-Hill: New York, 1989; pp 113-131.

ReceiVed for reView December 4, 2008 ReVised manuscript receiVed June 24, 2009 Accepted July 20, 2009 IE801869B