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Focused beam reflectance technique for in situ particle sizing in wastewater treatment settling tanks

Authors

  • Bob De Clercq,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Applied Mathematics, Biometrics and Process Control (BIOMATH), Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
    • Department of Applied Mathematics, Biometrics and Process Control (BIOMATH), Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
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  • Paul A Lant,

    1. Division of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Australia
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  • Peter A Vanrolleghem

    1. Department of Applied Mathematics, Biometrics and Process Control (BIOMATH), Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
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Abstract

Due to the complexities involved with measuring activated sludge floc size distributions, this parameter has largely been ignored by wastewater researchers and practitioners. One of the major reasons has been that instruments able to measure particle size distributions were complex, expensive and only provided off-line measurements. The Focused Beam Reflectance Method (FBRM) is one of the rare techniques able to measure the particle size distribution in situ. This paper introduces the technique for monitoring wastewater treatment systems and compares its performance with other sizing techniques. The issue of the optimal focal point is discussed, and similar conclusions as found in the literature for other particulate systems are drawn. The study also demonstrates the capabilities of the FBRM in evaluating the performance of settling tanks. Interestingly, the floc size distributions did not vary with position inside the settling tank flocculator. This was an unexpected finding, and seriously questioned the need for a flocculator in the settling tank. It is conjectured that the invariable size distributions were caused by the unique combination of high solids concentration, low shear and zeolite dosing. Copyright © 2004 Society of Chemical Industry

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