GEMMA - Group of Environmental Engineering and Microbiology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech, c/Jordi Girona, 1-3, Building D1, E-08034 Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]
The mechanistic model (BIO_ALGAE) for microalgae-bacteria based wastewater treatment systems simulation was validated in the long-term (months) using experimental results from a pilot high rate algal pond (HRAP) treating municipal wastewater. Simulated results were compared with data gathered during two different seasons (summer and winter), and with the HRAP operating at different hydraulic retention times (HRT, 4 and 8 days, respectively). The model was able to simulate with a good degree of accuracy the dynamics of different components in the pond, including the total biomass (bacteria and microalgae). By means of practical study cases, the influences of different HRT operating strategies and seasonal variations of temperature and irradiance were investigated for the relative proportion of microalgae and bacteria, and biomass production over a year cycle. Model predictions show that the proportion of microalgae in the microalgal/bacterial biomass is quite similar in warmer months if the pond is operated with 8-day HRT (76-78%) or 4-day HRT (60-75%). Significant differences were observed in colder months (4-day HRT (27-33%) and 8-day HRT (65-68%)). The model identified a scenario in which overall microalgae production and ammonium removal efficiency were optimized. By operating the HRAP with lower HRT (4 days) in warmer months and higher HRT (8 days) in colder months, the average annual microalgae production increased up to 14.1 gTSS m-2d-1, in contrast with 10.2 gTSS m-2d-1 and 9.2 gTSS m-2d-1 operating with constant HRAP (4 and 8 days, respectively) over a year cycle.