Troubleshooting in a full-scale wastewater treatment plant: what can be learnt from tracer tests

  • M. C. Collivignarelli
  • G. Bertanza
  • A. Abbà
  • S. DamianiEmail author
Original Paper


The experimental assessment of the actual reactor hydrodynamic behavior is aimed at detecting possible deviations from the design configuration, as well as suggesting corrective/improving modifications, efficacy of which can be also assessed in the aftermath. The hydrodynamic scheme can be defined by means of tracer tests (stimulus–response method) used for detecting the residence time distribution curve. This study shows the results of three hydrodynamic tests performed on a wastewater treatment plant half-line, in which a biological process (denitrification and oxidation–nitrification) is carried out. Hydrodynamic faults (in terms of dead space and/or flow bypass) were identified, and consequent actions suggested (i.e., change in submerged mixers orientation in the reactors; sinking of the final section of the sludge recirculation pipe below the free surface to avoid foaming phenomena; introduction of new mixed liquor recirculation lines). These actions, together with a careful selection of wastes to be treated, led to an improvement of the overall process performance.


Hydrodynamic analysis Retention time distribution analysis Dead space Flow bypass Biological process 



Authors wish to thank ASMia S.r.l. for giving technical and financial support to the experimental research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Architectural EngineeringUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Environmental, Architectural Engineering and MathematicsUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly

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