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Uncertainty assessment of a model for biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal: application to a large wastewater treatment plant.

  • Autori: Mannina, G.; Cosenza, A.; Viviani, G.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2012
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Parole Chiave: Activated-sludge models; Calibration; Nitrogen phosphorus removal; Uncertainty analysis; Wastewater modelling
  • OA Link:


In the last few years, the use of mathematical models in WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) processes has become a common way to predict WWTP behaviour. However, mathematical models generally demand advanced input for their implementation that must be evaluated by an extensive data-gathering campaign, which cannot always be carried out. This fact, together with the intrinsic complexity of the model structure, leads to model results that may be very uncertain. Quantification of the uncertainty is imperative. However, despite the importance of uncertainty quantification, only few studies have been carried out in the wastewater treatment field, and those studies only included a few of the sources of model uncertainty. Seeking the development of the area, the paper presents the uncertainty assessment of a mathematical model simulating biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal. The uncertainty assessment was conducted according to the Generalised Likelihood Uncertainty Estimation (GLUE) methodology that has been scarcely applied in wastewater field. The model was based on activated-sludge models 1 (ASM) and 2 (ASM2). Different approaches can be used for uncertainty analysis. The GLUE methodology requires a large number of Monte Carlo simulations in which a random sampling of individual parameters drawn from probability distributions is used to determine a set of parameter values. Using this approach, model reliability was evaluated based on its capacity to globally limit the uncertainty. The method was applied to a large full-scale WWTP for which quantity and quality data was gathered. The analysis enabled to gain useful insights for WWTP modelling identifying the crucial aspects where higher uncertainty rely and where therefore, more efforts should be provided in terms of both data gathering and modelling practises.