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Mathematical Models and Methods in Applied Sciences


Vol. 23, No. 3 (2013) 369–405

c World Scientific Publishing Company
DOI: 10.1142/S0218202512500509

A REDUCED-ORDER ODE–PDE MODEL


FOR THE ACTIVATED SLUDGE PROCESS
IN WASTEWATER TREATMENT: CLASSIFICATION
AND STABILITY OF STEADY STATES
Math. Models Methods Appl. Sci. 2013.23:369-405. Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

STEFAN DIEHL∗ and SEBASTIAN FARÅS†


by UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN on 09/08/13. For personal use only.

Center for Mathematical Sciences, Lund University,


P. O. Box 118, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden
∗diehl@maths.lth.se
†faras@maths.lth.se

Received 11 October 2011


Revised 5 December 2011
Accepted 25 March 2012
Published 6 September 2012
Communicated by N. Bellomo

Most wastewater treatment plants contain an activated sludge process, which consists
of a biological reactor and a sedimentation tank. The purpose is to reduce the incoming
organic material and dissolved nutrients (the substrate). This is done in the biological
reactor where micro-organisms (the biomass) decompose the substrate. The biomass is
then separated from the water in the sedimentation tank under continuous in- and out-
flows. One of the outflows is recirculated to the reactor. The governing mathematical
model describes the concentration of substrate and biomass as functions of time for
the biological reactor, and as functions of time and depth for the sedimentation tank.
This gives rise to a system of two ODEs for the reactor coupled with two spatially one-
dimensional PDEs for the sedimentation tank. The main mathematical difficulty lies
in the nonlinear PDE modeling the continuous sedimentation of the biomass. Previous
analyses of models of the activated sludge process have included excessively simplifying
assumptions on the sedimentation process. In this paper, results for nonlinear hyper-
bolic conservation laws with spatially discontinuous flux function are used to obtain a
classification of the steady states for the coupled system. Their stability to disturbances
are investigated and some phenomena are demonstrated by a numerical simulation.

Keywords: Conservation law; discontinuous coefficient; clarifier-thickener; biological


reactor; continuous sedimentation.

AMS Subject Classification: 34D20, 35L65, 35R05, 93A30

1. Introduction
1.1. The activated sludge process
Mathematical models and methods get increasing attention in the applied science
of wastewater treatment. In this paper, we analyze a simple model, consisting of

369
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370 S. Diehl & S. Farås

two ordinary differential equations (ODEs) and two partial differential equations
(PDEs), for the activated sludge process (ASP) (see Fig. 1), which can be found in
most wastewater treatment plants for domestic and industrial sewage.
After passing a primary sedimentation tank for the removal of coarse particles,
the wastewater consists mostly of organic material and dissolved nutrients. The
water is then fed to the ASP, which consists of one or several biological reactors
and a sedimentation tank, also called the secondary clarifier or settler. The purifi-
cation is done in the biological reactor where a large amount of micro-organisms,
called the biomass, consumes and decomposes the soluble material under the influ-
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ence of oxygen. Flocculated particles of biomass are formed and then continuously
separated from the water in the settler — the continuous sedimentation process.
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For the processes within the biological reactor there are standard nonlinear ODE
models, which are considered to be satisfactory. A conventional model consists of
13 ODEs modeling several soluble and particulate components.26 In this paper, we
consider a reduced-order model with only two components; one soluble substrate
and one particulate biomass component. Hence, two ODEs model the growth of
biomass and consumption of substrate in the biological reactor, and the in- and
outflow of these components.
Analogously, two PDEs model the gravity sedimentation in the settler and the
flows in and out of it. Two purposes of the continuous sedimentation process of the
particulate material in the settler are to produce a clear effluent at the top and
a concentrated biomass in the underflow from the bottom. Most of the underflow
biomass is recycled to the biological reactor. A small portion has to be wasted since
the biomass grows in the reactor. A third purpose of the settler is to be a buffer of
biomass in the ASP.
In the present analysis of the model, an interesting complication is the ODE–
PDE coupling via the recycle stream. The basic mathematical difficulty lies, how-
ever, in the nonlinear PDE that models the continuous sedimentation of the
biomass. This PDE is a first-order hyperbolic conservation law with discontinu-
ous flux function.

1.2. Conservation laws


Conservation laws arises in many applications were particles are transported by
some force in a medium. One application is traffic flow of information packets in
telecommunication.12,13 Another application is vehicular traffic flow, which is simi-
lar to the gravity sedimentation of particles. Particles/vehicles have a high velocity
as the local concentration of particles is low, and as they catch up a queue of
slowly moving high concentrated portion of particles, a concentration discontinuity
appears looking from a macroscopic level. This is how the sludge blanket forms
in sedimentation; see Fig. 1. For an overview of traffic-flow modeling, from the
microscopic or particle level, via the intermediate kinetic description with probabil-
ity distributions, to the macroscopic or fluid-dynamic level described by nonlinear
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 371

PDEs; see e.g. Ref. 3. An interesting example with a traffic-model PDE having dis-
continuous coefficients due to changing road surface conditions is given by Bürger
and Karlsen.6 The same type of equation arises in the modeling of continuous sed-
imentation with compression.9
Besides wastewater treatment, the process of continuous sedimentation can be
found in other applications such as the chemical, mining, pulp-and-paper and food
industries. The need for modeling and simulation have meant that many heuristi-
cally formulated numerical methods have been suggested in the water engineering
field; see Ref. 5 which contains 20 such references. Since the 1990s, the theory for
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conservation laws with discontinuous flux function has evolved, which has made
it possible to develop rigorous models. Such a model was first presented, indepen-
dently, by Chancelier et al.11 and Diehl.15 It consists of a hyperbolic conservation
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law with space-discontinuous flux function and source term:


∂u ∂ Qf (t)uf (t)
+ (F (u, x, t)) = δ(x), x ∈ R. (1.1)
∂t ∂x A
This equation is used in the present paper together with results for steady-state
solutions.17 Here u is the biomass concentration as a function of depth x in the
settler and time t, F is the flux function containing the volumetric flows and the
Kynch29 constitutive assumption that the settling speed is a function of the concen-
tration only. The right-hand side of (1.1) is a source term modeling the feed inlet.
There is generally a problem of nonuniqueness of solutions connected to the appear-
ance of discontinuities in the solution both within the clarification and thickening
zones, and at the inlet and outlets. In Refs. 14, 16, 22, the author developed and
analyzed an entropy condition, which made it possible to resolve the nonunique-
ness and construct solutions, at least locally in time. The existence and uniqueness
of global solutions (for a time-independent source term) were later established by
Bürger et al.8
In addition to the Kynch constitutive assumption, the compression of the floc-
culated particles may be modeled by the assumption that the effective solid stress
is an increasing function of the concentration above a critical concentration and
zero below. Then the model equation (1.1) has an additional diffusion term on the
right-hand side. The resulting equation is a strongly degenerate parabolic PDE and
we refer to Refs. 9 and 10 for the full model, its well-posedness, numerical schemes
and simulations. Although this is a model that is an extension of the hyperbolic
one (1.1), we do not consider it in this paper. The main reason is that we will utilize
results for the hyperbolic model that are not yet obtained for the parabolic one.
One advantage of the hyperbolic model is that exact steady-state solutions and
transitions between these (step responses) can be constructed.17–19

1.3. Related works


One of the first attempts to simulate the ASP was presented in 1978 by Attir and
Denn,2 who used two equations for the biological reactor (substrate and biomass)
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372 S. Diehl & S. Farås

and an ad hoc numerical settler implementation. A limited steady-state analysis


with two components, as in the present paper, was performed by Sheintuch.33,34 In
Ref. 34, Sheintuch points out that “The incorporation of a complete model for the
settler, on the other hand, introduces new parameters to the analysis and makes
a condense presentation almost impossible.” Since then, the settler has, in the
literature, been assumed either to satisfy a very simple model, such as a single or a
couple of ODEs, or to behave in an assumed optimal way, such as always in steady
state with a sludge blanket in the thickening zone independently of the operation
parameters.27,28 A recent comprehensive analysis of three ODEs is provided by
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Serhani et al.32 Two ODEs model the substrate and biomass concentrations in the
reactor as in Sheintuch’s papers and the present. The third ODE, however, models a
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completely mixed settler. Hence, the settling behavior is ignored. Many publications
confine to simulations of the ASP, often with a questionable numerical treatment
of the sedimentation process.1,4,24,25,30,31,35
A proper steady-state modeling of the continuous sedimentation process has
been lacking, in particular, any explicit formula that takes the sedimentation pro-
cess into account when modeled by a PDE of the form (1.1). Such a formula was
presented by the author17 and is a key ingredient in the analysis, which yielded
some partial results presented in Ref. 20 (a weaker form of Theorem 3.2 here).

1.4. Contents
An idealized ASP and its model equations are presented in Sec. 2. All steady-state
solutions of the ASP model are given in Sec. 3. In Theorem 3.1, all trivial steady
states are given, for example, in the cases when there is no recirculation (r = 0)
and/or no incoming substrate (Sin = 0). Theorem 3.2 states conditions for the exis-
tence and uniqueness of steady-state solutions during normal operation, i.e. when
there is a recirculation (r > 0) and incoming substrate (Sin > 0). Section 4 deals
with the stability of each normal-operation steady state with respect to distur-
bances in the biological reactor. All details are stated in Theorem 4.1. A summary
of the steady states and their stability is given in Sec. 5. A numerical simulation
demonstrating different types of stability is provided in Sec. 6.

2. A Reduced-Order Model for the ASP


2.1. An idealized ASP
We consider a simplified idealized ASP according to Fig. 1. Most of the variables,
constants and functions used can be found in Table 1. There is one substrate
component, the soluble material, represented by the S-variables in Fig. 1, and
one biomass component, the particulate material, represented by u. The biological
reactor is assumed to be completely mixed and have the volume V . The settler
is modeled in one dimension with the x-axis pointing downwards. It is assumed
to have a constant cross-sectional area A. The feed inlet is located at x = 0.
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 373
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Fig. 1. The activated sludge process consists of a biological reactor and a sedimentation tank
(settler). The settler consists of a clarification zone corresponding to the interval (−H, 0) and a
thickening zone in the interval (0, B), where H and B are constants. All variables may depend on
time. The subscripts stand for f = feed, e = effluent, u = underflow, r = recycle and w = waste.

Table 1. The notation for the ASP model.

A settler cross-sectional area [m2 ] um see (2.3) [kg/m3 ]


B thickening zone depth [m] umax maximum concentration [kg/m3 ]
b biomass death rate [h−1 ] uz (positive) zero of g [kg/m3 ]
E excess flux function (3.2) [kg/h] V biological reactor volume [m3 ]
F biomass flux function [kg/(m2 h)] vs settling-velocity function [m/h]
Fs substrate flux function [kg/(m2 h)] w waste volumetric ratio Qw /Q [–]
f flux function in thick. zone [kg/(m2 h)] x depth in settler from feed level [m]
fb batch-settling flux function [kg/(m2 h)] Y yield factor [–]
g flux function in clar. zone [kg/(m2 h)] Φcl steady-state flux in clar. zone [kg/h]
H clarification zone height [m] Φf steady-state feed flux [kg/h]
K constant in Monod relation [kg/m3 ] ff
Φ steady-state feed flux function [kg/h]
Q incoming volumetric flow [m3 /h] Φlim limiting flux function [kg/h]
r recycle volumetric ratio Qr /Q [–] Φth steady-state flux in thick. zone [kg/h]
S soluble (substrate) conc. [kg/m3 ] δ Dirac delta distribution [m−1 ]
t time [h] θu sludge age [h]
Uf steady-state function (3.17) [kg/m3 ] µ biomass growth rate function [h−1 ]
u particulate (biomass) conc. [kg/m3 ] µ̂ maximum biomass growth rate [h−1 ]
uinfl inflection point of f and g [kg/m3 ] τ V /Q [h]
uM local minimum of f [kg/m3 ]

Note: See also Fig. 1 for the main variables with the subscripts f = feed, e = effluent, u =
underflow, r = recycle and w = waste.

The height of the clarification is denoted by H and the depth of the thickening
zone by B.
The input variables to the ASP are the volumetric flow rate Q and the concen-
trations of the substrate Sin and biomass uin . The incoming biomass concentration
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374 S. Diehl & S. Farås

uin is usually small or negligible. The outputs are the effluent and underflow con-
centrations ue , Se , uu and Su . The underflow rate of the settler is Qu = (r + w)Q,
where the recycle and waste volumetric ratios are defined by
Qr Qw
r := , w := .
Q Q
These two ratios are the key control variables for the entire idealized ASP. The
main purpose of the ASP is to reduce the incoming substrate concentration Sin and
deliver a low effluent concentration Se . At the same time, the biomass should be
kept within the system and not leave through the effluent (ue = 0). A small portion
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of the sludge has to be wasted, even if uin = 0, because of the biomass growth in
the biological reactor. Therefore, the underflow concentration uu should be high
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and the waste ratio w small to minimize the amount of waste sludge for practical,
economical and environmental reasons.
Under normal operating conditions there is a concentration discontinuity in the
thickening zone, which position is called the sludge blanket level (or the sediment
level in other applications). As for the settler, the main control problem is to main-
tain the sludge blanket level as the inputs Q, Sin and uin vary with time. Then the
effluent particulate concentration remains low, preferably zero, and the underflow
concentration high.

2.2. Constitutive relation for biomass growth


In the biological reactor, the biomass consumes the substrate and a constitutive
relation for this is needed. The growth rate of biomass, denoted by µ [time−1 ],
increases with the dissolved oxygen concentration up to a critical level, after which
it is approximately constant. We assume that the dissolved oxygen concentration is
always sufficiently high and thus ignore a possible dependence of µ on the oxygen
concentration. As a function of the substrate concentration, we assume that µ ∈ C 2
and that it satisfies the following properties, where µ̂ is a constant:
µ(0) = 0, lim µ(S) = µ̂,
S→∞ (2.1)
0 < µ (S) < ∞ and µ (S) < 0,

for S ≥ 0.
The most common example of such a constitutive relation is the Monod relation
S
µ(S) = µ̂ , (2.2)
K +S
where K is the half-saturation coefficient (since µ(K) = µ̂/2). In the analysis below,
we rely only on the properties (2.1). Let b denote the death rate of biomass, which
is assumed to be a constant.

2.3. Constitutive relation for gravity sedimentation


In the settler, there is no supply of oxygen and hence no growth of biomass. In this
simple model with only one component of particulate material, we assume also that
the death rate is zero in the settler.
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 375

Batch sedimentation of a suspension is performed in a closed vessel where the


particles settle due to gravity. Let vs ≥ 0 denote this downward settling speed of
the particles. The constitutive assumption by Kynch29 is that the settling speed vs
depends only on the local concentration u. It is reasonable to assume that this is a
decreasing function since the hindrance of free settling of a single particle increases
with the concentration. Furthermore, we assume that vs (umax ) = 0, where umax is
the maximum packing concentration. Consequently, the batch-settling flux function
fb (u) := uvs (u) is nonlinear and it has often at least one inflection point; see Fig. 2.
We assume here that fb ∈ C 2 has precisely one inflection point uinfl.
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In continuous sedimentation, the upward and downward volumetric fluxes are


superimposed on the batch-settling flux in the clarification and thickening zone,
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respectively, yielding the following two flux functions (see Fig. 2):

Qe
g(u) = g(u, Qe ) := fb (u) − u in clarification zone,
A
Qu
f (u) = f (u, Qu ) := fb (u) + u in thickening zone.
A

Note that g and f have the same inflection point as fb . The form of fb and the two
volumetric flows Qu and Qe imply that there are particular characteristic concen-
trations that appear in the solutions. Let uz > 0 be the unique positive zero of g.
Define

Q̄u := −Afb (umax ), ¯ := −Af  (u ),


Q̄u b infl

which are the volumetric flows such that the slope of f is zero at umax and uinfl ,
respectively. The local minimizer of f , denoted by uM , on the right of uinfl plays
an important role in the behavior of the process. For intermediate values of Qu , i.e.
Q̄u < Qu < Q̄ ¯ , we have 0 = f  (u ) = f  (u ) + Q /A. To obtain a definition for
u M b M u
all values of Qu we define the restriction f˜b = fb |(uinfl ,umax ) . Then f˜b is increasing

Fig. 2. The batch-settling flux function fb (u) = uvs (u) and the flux functions g and f in the
clarification and thickening zone, respectively. The positive zero of g is denoted by uz .
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376 S. Diehl & S. Farås

and we define


 u , 0 ≤ Qu ≤ Q̄u ,
 max
 −1
uM (Qu ) := (f˜b ) (−Qu /A), ¯ ,
Q̄u < Qu < Q̄ u


 ¯
uinfl, Q ≥ Q̄ .
u u

Given uM we define um as the unique concentration satisfying

f (um ) = f (uM ), 0 ≤ um ≤ uinfl. (2.3)


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It turns out that the concentrations um and uM are precisely those found above
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and below the sludge blanket in the most desired steady-state solution.

2.4. Flux functions


Outside the settler, in the effluent and underflow pipes, we assume that the particles
follow the water streams, i.e. there is no sedimentation. This means that we can
consider the idealized settler on the whole real line having the total flux function
(cf. Eq. (1.1))

 (1 − w)Q

 − u, x < −H,

 A




g(u, (1 − w)Q), −H < x < 0,
F (u, x, r, w, Q) := (2.4)

 f (u, (r + w)Q), 0 < x < B,







 (r + w)Q u, x > B.
A

Let S(x, t) denote the substrate concentration in the settler. In the same way
as for the particulate concentration u(x, t), it is convenient to extend the bounded
interval (−H, B) for the settler to the whole real line and define the effluent and
underflow concentrations:

Se (t) := S(−H − 0, t), Su (t) := S(B + 0, t),


ue (t) := u(−H − 0, t), uu (t) := u(B + 0, t).

The total convective flux function for the soluble substrate contains only the bulk-
flow movement:


 (1 − w)Q

− S, x < 0,
A
F s (S, x, r, w, Q) :=



 (r + w)Q S, x > 0.
A
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 377

2.5. Model equations


The conservation of mass for the two species in the reactor and settler yield the
following model equations:

dSf µ(Sf )
V = QSin + rQSu − (1 + r)QSf − V uf , (2.5)
dt Y
duf
V = Quin + rQuu − (1 + r)Quf + V (µ(Sf ) − b)uf , (2.6)
dt
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∂S ∂
A + A (F s (S, x, r, w, Q)) = (1 + r)QSf δ(x), (2.7)
∂t ∂x
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∂u ∂
A + A (F (u, x, r, w, Q)) = (1 + r)Quf δ(x). (2.8)
∂t ∂x

Here, the constant Y > 0 is a yield factor relating substrate usage to organism
growth. Equation (2.8) is the first-order equation (1.1) for the biomass within the
settler. For the model system (2.5)–(2.8), the inputs are Q(t), Sin (t), uin (t), the
“state variables” are Sf (t), uf (t), S(x, t), u(x, t), the outputs are Se (t), Su (t), ue (t),
uu (t) and the control variables are r(t) and w(t).
Equation (2.7) for the substrate in the settler means a pure linear convection
of liquid with the speed Qe /A = (1 − w)Q/A upwards in the clarification zone and
Qu /A = (r + w)Q/A downwards in the thickening zone. However, the source term
implies that there are infinitely many possible solutions for given initial data. With
S± := S(0±, t), the mass in- and outflow at x = 0 yields

(1 + r)QSf = (r + w)QS+ + (1 − w)QS− (2.9)

and this single equation does not determine the two concentrations S± uniquely.
The natural, physically relevant and unique solution, which satisfies an entropy
condition for this type of hyperbolic equations (see Ref. 14), is continuous at x = 0,
i.e. S− = S+ . Equation (2.9) then yields

S(0, t) = S± = Sf (t), (2.10)

i.e. the substrate concentration is continuous from the feed inlet to both the clarifi-
cation and thickening zones. This is not the case for (2.8), because of the nonlinear
flux functions g(·, Q) and f (·, Q). In the special case of time-independent Q, r and
w, disturbances in the substrate concentration that are transported from the feed
inlet to the outlets have a constant speed in each zone. The variation in Sf (t) is
time delayed according to
   
HA BA
Se (t) = Sf t − , Su (t) = Sf t − . (2.11)
(1 − w)Q (r + w)Q
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378 S. Diehl & S. Farås

3. The Steady States of the ASP Model


3.1. The steady states of the settler
All steady-state solutions of Eq. (2.8) have been charted in Ref. 17 with respect to
both their dependence on the feed inputs, uf and Qf , and the control parameter
Qu = (r + w)Q. We give here a short review of Ref. 17 with some adaptation to the
coupling with the biological reactor. It is convenient to use the following two feed
inputs: the feed concentration uf and the feed flux Φf := Qf uf . For fixed Qu , the
results can then be described by means of operating charts, which are concentration-
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flux charts that are based on the flux function in the thickening zone f (·, Qu ); see
Fig. 3. Regarding all details of the notation in this figure we refer to Ref. 17. For
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the purpose of the present paper, the unit on the flux axis in the operating charts
has been chosen to mass per time unit, corresponding to the variable Φ, whereas
the unit of the flux function f (mass per time and cross-sectional area) has been
used in the previous papers.
The limiting flux function is defined as11 :
Φlim (u, Qu ) := min Af (v, Qu )
u≤v≤umax

Af (u, Qu ), u ∈ [0, um (Qu )] ∪ [uM (Qu ), umax ],
= (3.1)
Af (uM (Qu ), Qu ), u ∈ (um (Qu ), uM (Qu )),
and its graph can be found in Fig. 3(left). This figure shows the steady-state operat-
ing chart, in which the location of the feed point (uf , Φf ) determines the qualitative

5 Φ
Φ O3 P2 Λ3b
O1 O2 Λ1
4 Λ
Af (uM ) Λ3a
U2 P1
p 2 3

U1 Λ2
1

um uM Af (uM ) u
Qu max uinfl umax

Fig. 3. Left: The steady-state operating chart. The dotted curve is a part of the graph of the flux
function f (·, Qu ). The thick graph is the limiting flux curve Φlim (·, Qu ). If the feed point (uf , Φf )
lies on this curve, the settler is critically loaded in steady state, which means that it works at
its maximum capacity (the excess flux E = 0). A feed point below this graph means that the
settler is underloaded (E < 0), and above means overloaded (E > 0). Each region corresponds
to a specific steady state which is unique, except on the limiting flux curve (and on 3 and 5 ),
where the location of a discontinuity in the thickening and/or the clarification zone is not uniquely
determined. Note that the regions in this chart all depend on Qu . Right: The control chart with
respect to the steady states. The regions in this chart are fixed (given the batch-settling flux fb ),
i.e. they are independent of Q, r and w. For example, Λ2 is the region defined by all points of
2 (Qu ) for all Qu ≥ 0.
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 379

type of steady-state solution. Every steady-state solution is piecewise constant and


nondecreasing with depth; see Ref. 17 for a complete table accompanying Fig. 3
(left). Of particular interest are the steady-state solutions as (uf , Φf ) ∈ p ∪ 2 ∪ 3 ,
since then the state of optimal operation is possible, which means that there is a
sludge blanket in the thickening zone and a zero effluent concentration.
Consider a stand-alone settler and a given feed point (uf , Φf ) in the control
chart, Fig. 3(right). The excess flux is then defined as (cf. Ref. 17)

E(uf , Φf , Qu ) := Φf − Φlim (uf , Qu ) (stand-alone settler),


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where Φf = Qf uf does not depend on r. Then there is a unique value Q̃u and
a unique graph Φlim (·, Q̃u ) that passes through the feed point; see Ref. 17. With
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this unique value Q̃u of the control parameter for the settler, defined implicitly by
the equation E(uf , Φf , Q̃u ) = 0, the settler is critically loaded in steady state. If
(uf , Φf ) ∈ P1 ∪ Λ2 ∪ Λ3a (see Fig. 3, right), then there is a possibility for control
actions such that the settler can be put in the optimal-operation state with a sludge
blanket in the thickening zone.
For a coupled settler within the ASP, the situation is more complicated because
of the recirculation. Then the feed flux also depends on the control parameter r
and we introduce the feed flux function Φ f :

f (uf , r, Q) := (1 + r)Quf .
Φ

The excess flux for the settler within the ASP is defined as

f (uf , r, Q) − Φlim (uf , (r + w)Q)


E(uf , r, w, Q) := Φ (settler in ASP). (3.2)

For constant r, w and Q, we will on several occasions suppress the dependences on


f (uf ) and E(uf ).
these variables and write Φ
The fluxes in the clarification and thickening zones, denoted by Φcl and Φth ,
respectively, are in steady state independent of depth. The concentration within
each of these zones in steady state is generally piecewise constant as a function of
depth. The following holds for the flux in the thickening zone for any steady-state
solution (Ref. 17):

Φth = min(Φf , Φlim (uf , (r + w)Q)). (3.3)

This fact is the missing link in previous attempts of analyzing similar ASP
models.

3.2. The steady states of the ASP


Because of the linear convective transport of the substrate in the settler (2.11)
and the continuity (2.10), the stationary substrate concentration is the same in the
January 4, 2013 9:28 WSPC/103-M3AS 1250050

380 S. Diehl & S. Farås

reactor and the settler, i.e.

S = Sf = Se = Su in steady state.

The steady-state equations for the ASP model are

µ(S)
Q(Sin − S) − V uf = 0, (3.4)
Y
Quin + rQuu − (1 + r)Quf + V (µ(S) − b)uf = 0, (3.5)
Math. Models Methods Appl. Sci. 2013.23:369-405. Downloaded from www.worldscientific.com

Φf = (1 + r)Quf , (3.6)
by UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN on 09/08/13. For personal use only.

Φth = min(Φf , Φlim (uf , (r + w)Q)), (3.7)


Φth = (r + w)Quu , (3.8)
Φf = Φcl + Φth , (3.9)
Φcl = (1 − w)Que . (3.10)

Given fixed values of the three inputs Q, Sin and uin , and the two control parame-
ters r and w, (3.4)–(3.10) constitute a nonlinear system of equations for the seven
variables S, uf , uu , ue , Φf , Φcl and Φth . Note that all these 12 quantities are non-
negative. We assume that Q > 0, since the case Q = 0 is uninteresting.
Equation (3.4) and the properties (2.1) of µ imply directly the following condi-
tions for the variable S:

• S ≤ Sin ,
• Sin = 0 ⇔ S = 0,
• 0 < S < Sin ⇔ uf > 0.

In several figures, we exemplify different functions and have used the following
parameter values and constants of the system (3.4)–(3.10) and the growth rate
function (2.2):

Q = 1000 m3/h, Sin = 0.2 kg/m3 , uin = 0.1 kg/m3 ,


V = 2000 m3, A = 1500 m2, Y = 0.7,
−1 −1
(3.11)
b = 0.01 h , µ̂ = 0.1 h , K = 0.15 kg/m3 ,
r = 1, w = 0.01, umax = 15 kg/m3 .

A graph of the settling velocity function vs can be found in Fig. 4(left).

Lemma 3.1. Assume that vs ∈ C 2 [0, umax ] is a decreasing function with


vs (umax ) = 0, that the batch-settling flux function fb (u) = uvs (u) has precisely
one inflection point uinfl ∈ (0, umax ) and that the parameters Q > 0, r > 0 and
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 381

10 10

8
5

6
0

-5
2
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0 -10
0 5 10 15 0 5 10 15
by UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN on 09/08/13. For personal use only.

Fig. 4. Left: The settling velocity function chosen is vs (u) = 10(e−0.35u − e−0.35umax ) m/h
with umax = 15 kg/m3 . Right: The flux function g in the clarification zone and its positive zero
uz ≈ 7.55 kg/m3 .

0 ≤ w < 1 are fixed. If


Qe (1 − w)Q
vs (0) > qe := = ,
A A
then there exists a unique positive zero of g(·, Qe ) denoted by uz . The following
equation, with the excess flux function (3.2),
f (u, r, Q) = Φlim (u, (r + w)Q)
E(u, r, w, Q) = 0 ⇔ Φ (3.12)
has a unique solution u = uf,lim ∈ (0, umax ). Either uf,lim = uz ∈ (0, um ] ∪ [uM ,
umax ) holds, or uf,lim , uz ∈ (um , uM ) and uf,lim < uz hold. Furthermore, the follow-
ing properties hold for u ∈ (0, umax ):
E(u)  0 ⇔ u  uf,lim ,
(3.13)
E(u) is increasing for u > uf,lim .

Proof. We can write the flux function in the clarification zone as g(u, Qe) = fb (u) −
qe u = (vs (u)−qe )u. Since we have assumed that the settling speed vs is a decreasing
function and vs (0) > qe holds, we can define uz as the unique positive solution of
the equation vs (u) = qe , that is, uz is the largest zero of g(·, Qe ); see Fig. 4. It
follows partly that 0 < uz < umax , partly that (for 0 < u < umax )
u ≶ uz ⇔ vs (u) ≷ qe ⇔ g(u) ≷ 0. (3.14)
Suppressing the dependence on the parameters r, w and Q, the excess flux (3.2)
can be written as:
f (u) − Φlim (u)
E(u) = Φ

(1 + r)Qu − Af (u) = −Ag(u), u ∈ [0, um ] ∪ [uM , umax ],
= (3.15)
(1 + r)Qu − Af (uM ), u ∈ (um , uM ).
January 4, 2013 9:28 WSPC/103-M3AS 1250050

382 S. Diehl & S. Farås

4
x 10
1.5 15

0.5 10

-0.5 5

-1
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0 5 10 15 0
0 50 100 150 200
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Fig. 5. Left: The excess flux as a function of u given by (3.2) with its zero uf,lim ≈ 6.88 kg/m3 .
The dotted graph is −Ag(u). Right: Graph of the function Uf (S) defined by (3.17). The value of
S corresponding to a steady-state solution with a critically loaded settler is Slim ≈ 15.5 g/m3 .

This is a continuous function that satisfies E(0) = 0 and example is shown in


Fig. 5(left). Differentiation gives g  (u) = fb (u) = 2vs (u) + uvs (u), hence 0 =
fb (uinfl ) = 2vs (uinfl ) + uinfl vs (uinfl ). Since vs is decreasing, vs (uinfl ) > 0 holds.
Since fb (0) = fb (umax ) = 0 and fb has only one inflection point, it follows that
g  (u) = fb (u) ≶ 0 for u ≶ uinfl . Hence, both fb and g have a global maximum
in (0, uinfl) and are decreasing in [uinfl, umax ]. In particular, since uinfl < uM , g
is decreasing in [uM , umax ]. Since E is affinely increasing for u ∈ (um , uM ) and
E(u) = −Ag(u) for u ∈ [uM , umax ], we can conclude that

E is increasing on [um , umax ]. (3.16)

By virtue of (3.14) we can conclude the following. Consider first the case when
uz ∈ (0, um ]. Then E(u) = −Ag(u) < 0 for u ∈ (0, uz ) and E(u) = −Ag(u) > 0 for
u ∈ (uz , um ]. By (3.16), there exists a unique zero of E; uf,lim = uz . The properties
of g also imply that (3.13) hold. Consider now the case when uz ∈ [uM , umax ]. In this
interval, E(u) = −Ag(u) holds and it is increasing by (3.16). Thus, E and g have the
same zero uf,lim = uz ∈ [um , umax ]. That this is unique follows from the properties of
g above, which imply that E(u) = −Ag(u) < 0 for u ∈ (0, um ). In the last case when
uz ∈ (um , uM ), the properties of g imply that E(u) = −Ag(u) < 0 for u ∈ (0, um ]
and E(u) = −Ag(u) > 0 for u ∈ [uM , umax ]. Consequently, E has a unique zero
in (um , uM ), i.e. uf,lim ∈ (um , uM ). Furthermore, 0 = E(uf,lim ) = (1 + r)Quf,lim −
Af (uM ) > (1 + r)Quf,lim − Af (uf,lim ) = −Ag(uf,lim ), which, together with (3.14),
implies that uf,lim < uz . Furthermore, the properties (3.13) also follow.

Before we present what we will call a normal steady-state solution, we sort out
some special solutions. In case S > 0, Eq. (3.4) motivates the following function:
Y
Uf (S) := (Sin − S), 0 < S ≤ Sin , (3.17)
µ(S)τ
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 383

where
V
τ :=
Q
is the hydraulic retention time for an uncoupled bioreactor. A graph of Uf is shown
in Fig. 5(right). Differentiation gives
Y
Uf (S) = − (µ(S) + (Sin − S)µ (S)),
µ(S)2 τ
Y
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Uf (S) = (2µ(S)µ (S) + (Sin − S)(2µ (S)2 − µ (S)µ(S))).


µ(S)3 τ
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The properties (2.1) of µ imply the following:

lim Uf (S) = ∞, Uf (Sin ) = 0,


S→0+ (3.18)
Uf (S) <0 and Uf (S) > 0 for 0 < S < Sin .

Theorem 3.1. Assume that vs ∈ C 2 [0, umax ] is a decreasing function with


vs (umax ) = 0, that the batch-settling flux function fb (u) = uvs (u) has precisely
one inflection point uinfl ∈ (0, umax ), that the parameters Q > 0 and 0 ≤ w < 1
are fixed and that the properties (2.1) of µ hold. Then the following cases hold for
Eqs. (3.4)–(3.10) (in the case r = w = 0, by a unique solution we mean that all
variables are determined except for uu , since there is no underflow):

(a) For any fixed r > 0 and Sin ≥ 0, the following condition holds: uin = 0 is
equivalent to the fact that S = Sin , uf = uu = ue = Φf = Φcl = Φth = 0
constitutes a solution, which we denote as the trivial solution.
(b) If r > 0 and Sin = 0, then there exists a unique solution with S = 0 and where
the biomass concentration satisfies uf > 0 ⇔ uin > 0.
(c) Assume that r = 0, uin = 0 and Sin = 0. Then the unique solution is the trivial
one.
(d) Assume that r = 0, uin = 0 and Sin > 0. Then the existence of a solution, in
addition to the trivial one, is equivalent to the fact that (µ(Sin ) − b)τ > 1 holds.
The solution is S = µ−1 (b + 1/τ ) ∈ (0, Sin ) and uf = Uf (S) > 0.
(e) Assume that r = 0, uin > 0 and Sin = 0. Then there exists a unique solution,
which satisfies S = 0 and uf = uin /(1 + bτ ).
(f) Assume that r = 0, uin > 0 and Sin > 0. Then there exists a unique solution,
which satisfies 0 < S < Sin and uf = Uf (S) > 0.

Proof. (a) If uin = 0, then all equations are satisfied by S = Sin and uf = uu =
ue = Φf = Φcl = Φth = 0. Conversely, plugging in these variables, then Eq. (3.5)
becomes uin = 0.
(b) If Sin = 0, then (3.4) gives that S = 0. The system of Eqs. (3.5)–(3.10)
can be rewritten equivalently as (suppressing the dependences on r, w and Q in
January 4, 2013 9:28 WSPC/103-M3AS 1250050

384 S. Diehl & S. Farås

f and Φlim ):
Φ
f (uf ) + V buf − r f (uf ), Φlim (uf )) = Quin ,
L1 (uf ) := Φ min(Φ (3.19)
r+w
Φf = (1 + r)Quf ,
Φth = min(Φf , Φlim (uf )),
Φth
uu = ,
(r + w)Q
Φcl = Φf − Φth ,
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Φcl
ue = .
by UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN on 09/08/13. For personal use only.

(1 − w)Q
In (3.19), the left-hand side is a function of uf denoted by L1 . We shall now prove
that (3.19) has a unique solution. Then the rest of the solution is obtained directly
from the other equations. Because of Lemma 3.1 we can write

L1,ul (uf ), 0 ≤ uf ≤ uf,lim ,
L1 (uf ) =
L1,ol (uf ), uf,lim ≤ uf ≤ umax ,
where “ul” and “ol” refer to an underloaded and overloaded settler, respectively,
and where
 
 r  w(1 + r)
L1,ul (uf ) := Φf (uf ) + V buf − Φf (uf ) = Q + V b uf ,
r+w r+w

f (uf ) + V buf − r
L1,ol (uf ) := Φ Φlim (uf ).
r+w
Hence, L1,ul is a linear increasing function of uf . We now make the following
observation:
r f (uf ) − Φlim (uf )) = r E(uf ).
L1,ol (uf ) − L1,ul (uf ) = (Φ
r+w r+w
This implies that we can write


L1,ul (uf ), 0 ≤ uf ≤ uf,lim ,
L1 (uf ) = r

L1,ul (uf ) + E(uf ), uf,lim ≤ uf ≤ umax .
r+w
By (3.13) we can conclude that L1 is an increasing and continuous function on the
interval [0, umax ] satisfying L1 (0) = 0 and

L1 (umax ) = L1,ol (umax ) = Φ f (umax ) + V buf − r Φlim (umax )


r+w
r
= Qumax (1 + r + bτ ) − (Afb (umax ) + (r + w)Qumax )
r + w

=0

= Q(1 + bτ )umax ,
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 385

which is greater than the right-hand side of Eq. (3.19). Hence, there exists a unique
solution of (3.19) satisfying uf > 0 ⇔ uin > 0.
Assume now that r = 0. Then (3.4) and (3.5), respectively, become
V
Q(Sin − S) − µ(S)uf = 0, (3.20)
Y
Quin − Quf + V (µ(S) − b)uf = 0. (3.21)
These equations determine possible solutions for S and uf . The rest of the variables
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are then uniquely determined with the exception that uu is not determined if w = 0.
(c) If uin = Sin = 0, then (3.20) yields S = 0, and then (3.21) yields uf = 0.
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(d) For uin = 0, Eq. (3.21) becomes


(−Q + V (µ(S) − b))uf = 0.
Hence, the trivial solution with uf = 0 and S = Sin > 0 is one possibility. The other
one is if µ(S) = b + 1/τ has a solution S < Sin . This is equivalent to the fact that
µ(Sin ) > b + 1/τ , since µ is increasing. Then S = µ−1 (b + τ ) ∈ (0, Sin ) holds and
the corresponding uf is given by (3.20).
(e) Sin = 0 implies directly S = 0 by (3.20). Then (3.21) yields uin − uf (1 + bτ ) = 0,
which gives uf = uin /(1 + bτ ).
(f) First, we conclude that S = 0 in (3.20) yields Sin = 0, which is a contradiction.
Hence, any solution must satisfy S > 0. Then, (3.20)–(3.21) are equivalent to
uf = Uf (S) and
Uf (S)(1 + bτ ) + YS = Y Sin + uin . (3.22)
The properties (3.18) imply that the left-hand side L2 (S) := Uf (S)(1 + bτ ) + Y S
satisfies the following:
L2 (S) → ∞, S → 0+,
L2 (Sin ) = Y Sin ,
L2 (S) = Uf (S)(1 + bτ ) > 0, 0 < S < Sin .
This means that L2 is either decreasing on the entire interval (0, Sin ] or unimodal
with a local minimum within (0, Sin ). Since L2 (Sin ) = Y Sin is strictly less than the
right-hand side of (3.22), there exists a unique solution S ∈ (0, Sin ) of (3.22).

Theorem 3.1(a) states the existence of a solution with no biomass present in


the system. As for the solution in Theorem 3.1(e) with no substrate present, there
is no need for the ASP at all. However, if uin > 0 there is in fact biomass in the
settler, which may be under-, critically or overloaded, depending on how large uin
is. From now on we consider the solutions satisfying 0 < S ≤ Sin .
January 4, 2013 9:28 WSPC/103-M3AS 1250050

386 S. Diehl & S. Farås

In terms of (3.17) the system of Eqs. (3.4)–(3.10) can be rewritten equivalently


as (r > 0):

uf = Uf (S), (3.23)
 
f (Uf (S)) 1 + bτ
L(S) := Φ
1+r
r f (Uf (S)), Φlim (Uf (S), (r + w)Q)) + YQS
− min(Φ
r+w
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= (Y Sin + uin )Q, (3.24)


by UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN on 09/08/13. For personal use only.

f (Uf (S)),
Φf = Φ (3.25)

Φth = min(Φf , Φlim (uf , (r + w)Q)), (3.26)

Φth
uu = , (3.27)
(r + w)Q

Φcl = Φf − Φth , (3.28)

Φcl
ue = . (3.29)
(1 − w)Q

As S has been determined from (3.24) the rest of the variables are determined
explicitly by the other equations.
There is a unique relation between the biomass and the substrate concentrations
in the reactor given by uf = Uf (S); see Eq. (3.17). Given the constants um , uM ,
uf,lim and umax , we define

Sm := Uf−1 (um ), Slim := Uf−1 (uf,lim ),


(3.30)
SM := Uf−1 (uM ), Smin := Uf−1 (umax ).

Theorem 3.2. Assume that vs ∈ C 2 [0, umax ] is a decreasing function with


vs (umax ) = 0, that fb has precisely one inflection point uinfl ∈ (0, umax ), that µ ∈ C 2
satisfies (2.1) and that the parameters Q > 0, Sin > 0, uin ≥ 0, r > 0 and 0 ≤ w < 1
are fixed and satisfy

Qe (1 − w)Q
vs (0) > qe = = , (3.31)
A A
YSin + uin ≤ YSmin + umax (1 + bτ ). (3.32)

(a) If uin > 0, then the system of Eqs. (3.23)–(3.29) has a non-negative solution,
called a normal solution, which satisfies S ∈ [Smin , Sin ), uf , uu ∈ (0, umax ] and
ue ∈ [0, umax]. Sufficient conditions for having a unique solution are given in
Remark 3.2.
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 387

(b) If uin = 0 and


w(1 + r)
(µ(Sin ) − b)τ > (3.33)
r+w
hold, then there exist a normal solution as in case (a) and the trivial solution in
Theorem 3.1(a). Sufficient conditions for having at most one normal solution
are given in Remark 3.2.
(c) If uin = 0 and (3.33) is violated, then the only solution is the trivial one in
Theorem 3.1(a) with S = Sin and all biomass concentrations equal to zero.
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Remark 3.1. The reason for the presence of the inequality (3.32) is only to assure
that the feed concentration of the steady-state solution with an overloaded settler
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(E(uf ) > 0) satisfies uf ≤ umax . With the example values of the parameters, the
inequality (3.32) reads 0.14 + 0.1 ≤ 0.0049 + 15(1 + 0.02) [kg/m3 ].

Remark 3.2. Define the following functions for S ∈ (0, Sin ]:


r
Lol (S) := QUf (S)(1 + r + bτ ) − Φlim (Uf (S)) + YQS , (3.34)
r+w
 
w(1 + r)
Lul (S) := QUf (S) + bτ + YQS . (3.35)
r+w
The properties (3.18) imply the following properties of Lul :
Lul (S) → ∞, S → 0+,
Lul (Sin ) = Y QSin = L(Sin ),
  (3.36)
  w(1 + r)
Lul (S) = QUf (S) + bτ > 0, 0 < S < Sin .
r+w
Hence, Lul is either decreasing on the entire interval (0, Sin ] or unimodal with a
minimum point Š ∈ (0, Sin ). In the former case, the normal solution is unique.
Assume that the latter holds. If Slim ≤ Š holds, then there exists only one normal
√ If Š < Slim holds, then a sufficient condition for a single normal solution is
solution.
r ≤ ( 5 − 1)/2 ≈ 0.618. If the latter is false, then the following condition, involving
both constitutive functions (µ and vs ), is sufficient for a single non-negative solution.
The function

  r 
Lol (S) = Uf (S) Q(1 + r + bτ ) − Φ (Uf (S)) + YQ (3.37)
r + w lim
should be nondecreasing for Š < S < Slim . Here, we remark that Φlim (Uf (S)) is not
defined at S = Sm . However, for S ∈ [SM , Sm ), Φlim (Uf (S)) ≡ 0 holds and we have
Φlim (Uf (Sm + 0)) = Af  (um − 0) > 0. Hence, Lol makes a jump upwards at Sm .

Proof of Theorem 3.2. In all cases we shall prove that Eq. (3.24) has a solution
S. Then the other equations explicitly determine the remaining variables. Start by
examining the minimum term of (3.24), which is the flux in the thickening zone
January 4, 2013 9:28 WSPC/103-M3AS 1250050

388 S. Diehl & S. Farås

f
Φth , see (3.26), as a function of uf = Uf (S). Note that the subtraction between Φ
and Φlim in the minimum term equals the excess flux (3.2). Recall Lemma 3.1 and
the unique value uf,lim and its corresponding Slim defined by (3.30). Since Uf (S) is
decreasing, we can write the properties (3.13) in the following way for S ∈ (0, Sin ):
f (Uf (S)) − Φlim (Uf (S))  0 ⇔ S  Slim ,
E(Uf (S)) = Φ
(3.38)
E(Uf (S)) is decreasing for S < Slim ,

cf. Fig. 6. Hence, we can write


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Lol (S), 0 < S < Slim ,
L(S) =
Lul (S), Slim ≤ S ≤ Sin ,
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where Lol and Lul are defined by (3.34)–(3.35), and the subscripts refer to an over-
loaded and underloaded settler, respectively, see Figs. 6(right) and 7(left). Noting
that
r f (Uf (S)) − Φlim (Uf (S))) = r E(Uf (S)), (3.39)
Lol (S) − Lul (S) = (Φ
r+w r+w
we can write
 r
Lul (S) + E(Uf (S)), 0 < S < Slim ,
L(S) = r+w
L (S), Slim ≤ S ≤ Sin .
ul

As concluded in Remark 3.2, the properties (3.36) imply that Lul is either decreasing
on the entire interval (0, Sin ] or unimodal with a local minimum Š ∈ (0, Sin ). If Lul
is decreasing on the entire interval (0, Sin ], then L is this, too, since E(Uf (·)) is
decreasing by (3.38). Consider now the other case when Lul has a minimum point
Š ∈ (0, Sin ). If Slim ≤ Š holds, then, by (3.38), we can conclude that L is unimodal
with a minimum point in Š ∈ (Slim , Sin ). Assume that Š < Slim holds. Then it is

4000 4000

2000 2000

0 0

-2000 -2000

-4000 -4000

-6000 -6000

-8000 -8000

-10000 -10000

-12000 -12000
0 50 100 150 200 0 50 100 150 200

Fig. 6. Left: The excess flux as a function of S, with the properties (3.38). Right: The two
functions Lol and Lul in the proof of Theorem 3.2.
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 389

800 2

700

600 1.5

500

400 1

300

200 0.5

100
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0 0
50 100 150 200 0 5 10 15
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Fig. 7. Left: The left-hand side of Eq. (3.24) as a function of S. The concentration S1 satisfies
L(S1 ) = L(Sin ) = Y QSin = 140 kg/h. The right-hand side of Eq. (3.24) is (Y Sin +uin )Q = 240 kg/h
and the steady-state solution satisfies S = Sf ≈ 18.8 g/m3 and uf ≈ 5.70 kg/m3 . Right: The
location of the feed point below the limiting flux curve. The settler is underloaded.

clear that Lol (S) is decreasing for S ≤ Š and increasing for S ≥ Slim . We need to
investigate the properties of Lol in the interval [Š, Slim ]. By definition, we have
 
  w(1 + r)
0 = Lul (Š) = QUf (Š) + bτ + Y Q. (3.40)
r+w
Since E(Uf (S)) is decreasing in a neighborhood of Š (by (3.38)), we have

r d 
0> E(Uf (S)) = Lol (Š)
r + w dS S=Š
 
r
= Uf (Š) Q(1 + r + bτ ) − Φlim (Uf (Š)) + Y Q.
r+w
(In the case Š = Sm , Φlim (Uf (Š)) is not defined; however, a finite difference ratio
in a neighborhood is bounded by the left and right derivatives.) Using (3.40) to
eliminate Uf (Š), we get
 
Y r
− w(1+r) Q(1 + r + bτ ) − Φlim (Uf (Š)) + Y Q < 0
r+w
r+w + bτ
 
r w(1 + r)
⇔ Q(1 + r + bτ ) − Φ (Uf (Š)) > Q + bτ
r + w lim r+w

⇔ Q(1 + r)(r + w) − rΦlim (Uf (Š)) > Qw(1 + r)


⇔ rΦlim (Uf (Š)) < Q((1 + r)r − 1).
In the latter inequality, the left-hand
√ side is non-negative, so that r2 +r−1 > 0 must
hold, which implies that r > ( 5 − 1)/2 must hold. Then, according to Remark 3.2,
the function (3.37) is nondecreasing for Š < S < Slim , which implies that Lol is
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390 S. Diehl & S. Farås

convex on [Š, Slim ]. We can then conclude that L is unimodal with a global minimum
point in [Š, Slim ]. Overall, we have now proved that in any case L is either decreasing
or unimodal with a minimum point in (0, Sin ). The right-hand side of Eq. (3.24)
satisfies (Y Sin + uin )Q ≥ Y QSin = L(Sin ), with strict inequality, if and only if,
uin > 0. Hence, for uin > 0, Eq. (3.24) has a unique solution Sf ∈ (0, Sin ) (cf. Fig. 7,
left) and case (a) is proved. If uin = 0, the trivial solution in Theorem 3.1(a) with
S = Sin is one possibility. Note that condition (3.33) is equivalent to
  
1 w(1 + r)
Lul (Sin ) = Y Q 1 − +b > 0.
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µ(Sin ) τ (r + w)
If uin = 0 and Lul (Sin ) > 0, then Lul is unimodal and there exist two solutions;
case (b) is proved. If uin = 0 and Lul (Sin ) ≤ 0, then Lul is decreasing on (0, Sin ]
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and the only solution is the trivial one with zero biomass concentrations; case (c) is
proved. It remains to prove that the nontrivial solution satisfies Sf ≥ Smin , which
is equivalent to uf ≤ umax . Then all biomass concentrations in the settler and the
outlets are less than or equal to umax (see Ref. 15). Suppose first that Sf ≥ Slim .
Since Uf is decreasing, we always have

Uf (Slim ) = uf,lim < umax = Uf (Smin ) ⇔ Slim > Smin ,

hence Sf ≥ Slim > Smin holds. Suppose now that Sf < Slim holds. The properties
of L implies that it is decreasing on (0, Sf ] (since Sf is the least solution). Then we
have the following equivalence:

Sf ≥ Smin ⇔ L(Sf ) ≤ L(Smin ), (3.41)

where we want to prove the former inequality. Since the left-hand side of the latter
inequality is L(Sf ) = Q(Y Sin + uin ) and the right-hand side is
r
L(Smin ) = Lol (Smin ) = Qumax(1 + r + bτ ) − Φlim (umax ) + Y QSmin
r+w
r
= Qumax(1 + r + bτ ) − (Afb (umax ) + (r + w)Qumax ) + Y QSmin
r + w

=0

= Q(umax (1 + bτ ) + Y Smin ),

we can conclude that the inequality (3.41) is equivalent to (3.32).

The values of the steady-state solution in the example, supported by Figs. 5–7,
are given by:
S = Sf ≈ 18.8 g/m3, uf ≈ 5.70 kg/m3 , Φlim ≈ 13 754 kg/h,
Φf = Φth ≈ 11 399 kg/h, uu ≈ 11.3 kg/m3 , Φcl = 0 kg/h, (3.42)
ue = 0 kg/m3 .
The location of the feed point can be seen in Fig. 7(right).
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 391

In Sec. 2.1, it was argued that although the waste ratio w should be small, it
has to be nonzero to prevent an overflow of biomass because of the growth of the
biomass. This is in accordance with the corresponding stationary solution as w = 0.
From Eqs. (3.5)–(3.9) we can infer that w = 0 yields
0 ≤ Φcl = V (µ(S) − b)uf + Quin
and we cannot expect the right-hand side to be zero, since (3.4) determines the
relation between S and uf . Hence, Φcl > 0 holds generally and there is an overflow
of biomass.
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4. Stability of the Steady States


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It is of importance to investigate the stability of the stationary solutions in Theo-


rem 3.2. We consider here the dynamic equations (2.5) and (2.6) for the reactor con-
centrations Sf and uf and disturbances of these from a steady-state solution. Such
disturbances are propagated through the thickening zone and the recycle stream
with a finite speed. In the case of constants Q, r and w, this is explicitly stated
for the substrate in Eq. (2.11), where the bulk speed in the thickening zone is
(r + w)Q/A. For the biomass, there is in addition the settling speed. The hyper-
bolic PDE theory yields that the highest signal speed downwards is
(r + w)Q (r + w)Q
max f  (u) = max (vs (u) + uvs (u)) + = vs (0) + ,
0≤u≤umax 0≤u≤umax A A
since we have assumed that vs is a decreasing function. Thus, during the time
period before such disturbances have been recycled to the reactor, Su and uu are
time-independent and we may consider (2.5)–(2.6) as an autonomous system in the
variables (Sf , uf ). We now denote the time-dependent variables of this system by
(S, u) and let (Sf , uf ) denote the specific constant values corresponding to a steady-
state solution of Theorem 3.2. With τ = V /Q, the equations can be written (recall
that Su = Sf ):
dS µ(S)
τ = Sin + rSf − (1 + r)S − τ u =: RS (S, u), (4.1)
dt Y
du
τ = uin + ruu − C(S)u =: Ru (S, u), (4.2)
dt
where the coefficient of u in the second equation
C(S) := 1 + r − τ (µ(S) − b) (4.3)
is decreasing since µ is increasing. We are interested in the vector field of (4.1)–(4.2)
in the rectangle
Ξ := (0, Sin ] × [0, umax]
and note that the functions RS (S, u) and Ru (S, u), defined by the right-hand sides
of (4.1)–(4.2), are Lipschitz continuous in Ξ.
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392 S. Diehl & S. Farås

For the trivial solution in Theorem 3.1(a), (Sf , uf ) = (Sin , 0), the system (4.1)–
(4.2) reduces to
dS µ(S) µ(S)
τ = (1 + r)(Sin − S) − τ u=τ ((1 + r)Uf (S) − u), (4.4)
dt Y Y
du
τ = −C(S)u. (4.5)
dt
Before the theorem on stability, we investigate the normal solution in Theo-
rem 3.2 where 0 < Sf < Sin and 0 < uf ≤ umax . Then we have
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uin + ruu
Ru (Sf , uf ) = 0 ⇔ C(Sf ) = .
uf
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Hence, C(Sf ) > 0 holds and Ru (Sf , umax ) = uin + ruu − C(Sf )umax < uin + ruu −
C(Sf )uf = Ru (Sf , uf ) = 0, which means that the vector field is directed towards
lower biomass concentrations at (Sf , uf ). This is a natural property, however, we
cannot expect that it holds for all S ∈ (0, Sin ) when u = umax , since the bound umax
is not present in (4.1)–(4.2). Therefore, we make the following distinction in order
to sort out qualitatively different vector fields. The requirement that the vector field
should not be directed towards higher concentrations on the boundary of Ξ where
u = umax is
Ru (S, umax ) = uin + ruu − C(S)umax ≤ 0, for all S ∈ (0, Sin ]. (4.6)
Since C(·) is decreasing, and thereby Ru (·, umax ) is increasing, (4.6) is equivalent
to
uin + ruu
Ru (Sin , umax ) = uin + ruu − C(Sin )umax ≤ 0 ⇔ C(Sin ) ≥ . (4.7)
umax
Assuming that (4.7) holds, we have (since C(·) is decreasing)
C(S) > C(Sin ) ≥ 0, 0 < S < Sin . (4.8)
Then we can factor out the coefficients of u and write the system (4.1)–(4.2) as:
dS µ(S)
τ =τ (U1 (S) − u), (4.9)
dt Y
du
τ = C(S)(U2 (S) − u), (4.10)
dt
where
Y (Sin + rSf − (1 + r)S)
U1 (S) := , (4.11)
τ µ(S)
uin + ruu
U2 (S) := . (4.12)
C(S)
If (4.7) is not satisfied, this factorization can be done for all S ∈ (0, SzC ), where
SzC is the unique zero of C. Thus, U2 is well defined and positive for S ∈ (0, SzC ).
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 393

Since C is decreasing, U2 is increasing. U1 is positive for all S ∈ (0, Sz1 ), where


Sin + rSf
Sz1 :=
1+r
is the zero of U1 . Differentiation gives
Y
U1 (S) = − ((1 + r)µ(S) + (Sin + rSf − (1 + r)S)µ (S)).
τ µ(S)2
Here, the coefficient for µ (S) is positive for S < Sz1 by definition of Sz1 . Hence,
U1 (S) is decreasing for 0 < S < Sz1 . The normal solution (Sf , uf ) is therefore the
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unique intersection of the graphs of U1 and U2 ; see Figs. 8(left) and 9. These two
curves divide the (S, u)-plane into four regions in which the right-hand sides of
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the ODEs have specific signs. The following properties will be used in the proof of
Theorem 4.1 below:

lim U1 (S) = ∞,
S0
Sin + rSf
Sf < Sz1 = < Sin ,
1+r
uin + ruu
If (4.7) holds: U2 (Sin ) = ≤ umax , (4.13)
C(Sin )
lim U2 (S) = ∞. (4.14)
SSzC

Theorem 4.1. Assume that the prerequisites of Theorem 3.2 hold. Consider the
system (4.1)–(4.2) for the reactor concentrations (S, u) in the rectangle Ξ, and with
all other variables fixed and equal to a stationary solution of the ASP given by
Theorem 3.2.
uin +ruu
(a) Assume that (4.7) holds; C(Sin ) ≥ umax , which is equivalent to
uin + ruu
(µ(Sin ) − b)τ ≤ 1 + r − , (4.15)
umax

Fig. 8. Theorem 4.1(a). Vector field of the system (4.9) and (4.10) when (4.7) holds. Left: The
normal-solution case 0 < Sf < Sin . Right: The trivial-solution case uf = 0, Sf = Sin .
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394 S. Diehl & S. Farås

8
14
7.5
12
7
10
6.5
8
6
6

4 5.5

2 5

0 4.5
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-2 4
0 50 100 150 200 10 15 20 25 30
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Fig. 9. Theorem 4.1(a), for the example values (3.42). The graphs (solid) of U1 and U2 and
numerically computed orbits (dotted) of the system (4.1) and (4.2). The right plot provides a
zoom of the left one.

then each stationary solution in Theorem 3.2 is a unique equilibrium point,


which is an attractor for the set Ξ (any orbit starting in Ξ converges to the
equilibrium point); see Figs. 8(left) and 9. Furthermore, every orbit starting in
Ξ at t = 0, stays in Ξ for t > 0.
+ruu
(b) Assume that 0 ≤ C(Sin ) < uinumax holds, which is equivalent to
uin + ruu
1+r− < (µ(Sin ) − b)τ ≤ 1 + r. (4.16)
umax
Then no trivial solution exists. A normal solution in Theorem 3.2 is a unique
equilibrium point, which is an attractor for the set Ξ. Some orbits satisfy u(t) >
umax during a bounded time interval; cf. Fig. 10.
(c) If C(Sin ) < 0 holds, which is equivalent to

(µ(Sin ) − b)τ > 1 + r, (4.17)

then the normal solution is an attractor for the set Ξ; see Fig. 11(left). For the
trivial-solution case, (Sin , 0) is a saddle point and (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )) is an

Fig. 10. Theorem 4.1(b). Vector field of the system (4.1) and (4.2). S̃ satisfies U2 (S̃) = umax .
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 395
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Fig. 11. Theorem 4.1(c). Vector field of the system (4.1) and (4.2). S̃ satisfies U2 (S̃) = umax .
Left: The case 0 < Sf < Sin . Right: The trivial-solution case (Sf , uf ) = (Sin , 0).
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attractor. Assume that the physically interesting case (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )) ∈ Ξ
holds. An orbit starting from (S(0), 0) with S(0) ∈ [0, Sin ] converges to (Sin , 0).
From any other starting point in Ξ, i.e. with u(0) > 0, the orbit will converge
towards the attractor (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )).

Proof. First, we prove that there exists no periodic orbit except for the equilibrium
points of Theorem 3.2. This follows from the Bendixson–Dulac theorem in which
we choose the auxiliary function ϕ(u) = 1/u so that the following expression has
the same sign in the whole region S > 0, u > 0:
∂ ∂
(ϕRS ) + (ϕRu )
∂S ∂u
 
1 µ (S) 1 1
= −(1 + r) − τ u − 2 (uin + ruu − C(S)u) + (−C(S))
u Y u u

1+r µ (S) uin + ruu


=− −τ − < 0.
u Y u2
The local stability of an equilibrium point (Sf , uf ) can be investigated by means of
the Jacobian of the system (4.1)–(4.2) in the equilibrium point. In the two qualita-
tively different cases (normal and trivial-solution), the Jacobians are:
 τ τ 
−(1 + r) − µ (Sf )uf − µ(Sf )
J1 :=  Y Y  and
τ µ (Sf )uf −C(Sf )
 τ 
−(1 + r) − µ(Sin )
J2 :=  Y ,
0 −C(Sin )
respectively.
(a) The fact that the equilibrium point (Sf , uf ) is an attractor follows from the
Hartman–Grobman linearization theorem if the two eigenvalues of the Jacobian
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396 S. Diehl & S. Farås

have negative real parts. Consider first the normal solution with 0 < Sf < Sin .
Since µ (Sf ) > 0 and C(Sf ) > C(Sin ) ≥ 0 hold, the lower left corner of J1 is
positive and the other matrix elements are negative. Hence, the trace of this matrix
(equal to the sum of the eigenvalues) is negative and the determinant (equal to the
product of the eigenvalues) is positive. Thus, both eigenvalues have negative real
parts. Then there exists a neighborhood of the equilibrium point (Sf , uf ) such that
all orbits starting in the neighborhood will converge to (Sf , uf ). Because of (4.15),
no orbit can leave the rectangle Ξ; see the vector field in Fig. 8(left). Since we have
above ruled out periodic solutions, (Sf , uf ) is an attractor for all orbits starting in
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Ξ and all these orbits will stay inside Ξ. For the trivial-solution case where (Sin , 0)
is the equilibrium point, the vector field is shown in Fig. 8(right). For C(Sin ) > 0,
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J2 has two negative eigenvalues. For C(Sin ) > 0, one eigenvalue is zero, which
only means that the vector field points horizontally on the left on the piece of line
S = Sin , 0 < u < umax . Inside Ξ the vector field points downwards, since C(·)
is decreasing. With the same reasoning as above we conclude that (Sin , 0) is an
attractor for Ξ.
+ruu
(b) If 0 ≤ C(Sin ) < uinumax holds, then the trivial solution is impossible, since
Theorem 3.1(a) gives that uin = 0 = uu . The vector field for the normal-solution
case is shown in Fig. 10, where the equilibrium point is a local attractor with the
same arguments as in case (a), since C(Sf ) > C(Sin ) ≥ 0 holds. If C(Sin ) = 0 holds,
in +ruu
then (4.14) holds with SzC = Sin . If C(Sin ) > 0 holds, then U2 (Sin ) = uC(S in )
>
umax holds. In both cases there exists a unique S̃ < Sin with U2 (S̃) = umax . The
difference from case (a) is that there are orbits starting in Ξ that leave Ξ through
the piece of line S̃ < S ≤ Sin , u = umax . Any such orbit will cross the curve
u = U2 (S), since the latter either crosses the vertical line S = Sin or approaches
it by (4.14). The orbit will then return to Ξ and not leave Ξ again. Since we have
excluded other limit cycles, convergence to (Sf , uf ) is proved.

(c) As C(Sin ) < 0, the zero of C satisfies SzC < Sin and the property (4.14)
holds. Thus, for the normal solution, which is the intersection of the graphs of
U1 and U2 , C(Sf ) = (uin + ruu )/U2 (Sf ) > 0 holds (the lower left corner of J1 is
thereby positive). Hence, the conditions for the normal solution are qualitatively
the same as in case (b) with the extra ingredient that one have to show that orbits
passing the line segment SzC < S ≤ Sin , u = umax , upwards will cross the curve
u = U2 (S) see Fig. 11(left). Recall (4.14); U2 (S) → ∞ as S SzC . In the region
{(S, u) : u > umax , U2−1 (u) < S ≤ Sin } we have RS (S, u) < 0, RS (·, u) is decreasing,
Ru (S, u) > 0, Ru (·, u) is increasing and

du Ru (S, u) Ru (Sin , u)
0> = S ≥
dS R (S, u) RS (S̃, u)

uin + ruu − C(Sin )u C(Sin )


= → τ as u → ∞.
Sin + rSf − (1 + r)S̃ − Yτ µ(S̃)u Y µ(S̃)
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 397

Thus, the slopes of the orbits are bounded away from −∞, which implies that
the orbits cross the curve U2 . For the trivial solution, the vector field of (4.4)–
(4.5) is shown in Fig. 11(right). There are two equilibrium points. The Jacobian
J2 in the trivial-solution point (Sin , 0) has the diagonal elements −(1 + r) < 0
and −C(Sin ) > 0. Hence, (Sin , 0) is a saddle point with the S-axis as the stable
manifold and the u-axis as the unstable manifold locally. The Jacobian in the other
equilibrium point (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )) is
 τ τ 
−(1 + r) − µ (SzC )(1 + r)Uf (SzC ) − µ(SzC )
 Y Y .
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τ µ (SzC )(1 + r)Uf (SzC ) 0


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The trace of this matrix is negative, and the determinant is positive, which shows
that (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )) is an attractor. It remains to show that this is a global
attractor in the case (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )) ∈ Ξ. We can conclude that in the half-
strip {(S, u) : SzC < S ≤ Sin , u ≥ umax }, the inequality u > (1 + r)Uf (S) holds and
the system (4.4)–(4.5) yields
du C(S)u C(S)
0> = → τ as u → ∞.
dS τ
Y µ(S)u − (1 + r)(Sin − S) Y µ(S)
du
Thus, dS is bounded in the strip. Since

du  C(Sin )Y
 = < 0,
dS S=Sin τ µ(Sin )
all orbits starting on the half-line S = Sin , u > 0 have the same constant negative
slope. Hence, an orbit starting at (Sin , ε), for ε > 0, will cross the line S = SzC and
then continue in Ξ because of the vector field; cf. Fig. 11(right). Since there are no
periodic orbits, we can conclude that any orbit with a starting point in Ξ\{S-axis}
converges to (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )).

The results in Theorem 4.1 for the trivial zero-biomass stationary solution can
be interpreted in the following way. Normally, there is no incoming biomass into
the plant. Assume that uin = 0 holds, that the plant has been started with no
biomass in the system and that the settler depth B is sufficiently large so that
there is a sufficient time delay for a disturbance to pass through the thickening
zone. In case (a), when τ is sufficiently small, the equilibrium point (Sin , 0) is stable
under disturbances. Assume that a certain amount of biomass is dumped into the
reactor, i.e. an orbit starts in the point (Sin , u(0)), with u(0) > 0. According to the
vector field in Fig. 8(right), the substrate concentration decreases initially since it
is consumed by the biomass. Since τ is relatively small, the outflow of biomass to
the settler is larger than the biomass production so that the biomass concentration
is reduced. At a later time point, the biomass concentration is so small that the
inflow QSin is greater than the consumption of substrate and the orbit turns back
to the attractor (Sin , 0).
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398 S. Diehl & S. Farås

On the other hand, if τ = V /Q is large, then the situation in Theorem 4.1(c)


occurs; see Fig. 11(right). Consider a steady state with no biomass in the system and
suppose there is a disturbance in the substrate concentration such that it is reduced
instantaneously. This means that an orbit starts in (S(0), 0) with S(0) < Sin .
Then it follows the S-axis back to the equilibrium point (Sin , 0), because of the
constant inflow of substrate QSin . On the other hand, if biomass is dumped into
the reactor, even a very small amount, the corresponding orbit starts at S(0) = Sin
and u(0) > 0 and converges to the equilibrium point (SzC , (1 + r)Uf (SzC )). Thus
u(t) > 0 and after some biomass has passed through the thickening zone of the
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settler, the previous zero underflow concentration uu becomes positive. Then the
situation in Fig. 11(left) is valid, however with a time varying U2 (because of uu (t)
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in its numerator) and hence a time varying intersection with U1 .

5. Summary of the Steady States and Their Stability


Define the dimensionless quantities
V
η(Q, Sin ) := (µ(Sin ) − b)
= (µ(Sin ) − b)τ, (5.1)
Q
 
w(1 + r) 1−w
α(r, w) := =w 1+ . (5.2)
r+w r+w
Concerning the existence of steady states in Theorem 3.2, there are different cases
depending on η(Q, Sin ) ≶ α(r, w). In Theorem 4.1, the stability of the trivial solu-
tion depends on η(Q, Sin ) ≶ 1 + r. Note that α(r, w) is defined for all r ≥ 0, w ≥ 0,
except for (r, w) = (0, 0). For every w0 ∈ (0, 1), the following hold: α(0, w0 ) = 1,
α(r, w0 ) is decreasing and converges to w0 as r → ∞, and
0 ≤ α(r, w) < 1, 0 ≤ w < 1, r > 0. (5.3)
Table 2 gives a survey of the main contents of the theorems in the previous
section. The following terminology is used:
• “Normal attractor”: A normal steady-state solution (S, uf ) is an attractor as
described in Theorem 4.1.
• “Trivial attractor”: The trivial steady-state solution (Sin , 0) is an attractor.
• “Trivial saddle”: The trivial steady-state solution (Sin , 0) is a saddle point as
described in Theorem 4.1(c).
We now prove and comment on the table. The case uin > 0 is simple, since there
exists a normal solution which is an attractor independently of Q, Sin , r and w. We
now deal with the case uin = 0.
Case η ≤ α. According to Theorem 3.2(c), the only possible solution is the trivial
one. We have η ≤ α < 1, which means that inequality (4.15) is satisfied. (Note
that the right-hand side of (4.15) is greater than or equal to one when uin = 0.)
Theorem 4.1(a) thus states that the trivial solution is an attractor.
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 399

Table 2. The qualitatively different possible steady states of the ASP model
and their stability with respect to disturbances in the biological reactor cate-
gorized in terms of the input and control variables.

η≤α α< η ≤ 1+r 1+r <η


uin > 0 Normal attractor Normal attractor Normal attractor
uin = 0 Trivial attractor Trivial attractor Trivial saddle
Normal attractor Normal attractor
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1 1
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0.8 0.8

0.6 0.6

0.4 0.4

0.2 0.2

0 0
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3

Fig. 12. The case with a fixed η(Q, Sin ) ∈ (0, 1). The curve η = α(r, w), cf. (5.4), is shown for
Q = 200 m3/h (left) and Q = 100 m3/h (right).

Case α < η ≤ 1 + r. For a given fixed η, Theorem 3.2 yields that the existence
of a normal solution is equivalent to
ηr
η > α(r, w) ⇔ w < , (5.4)
r+1−η
see Fig. 12. Since η ≤ 1 + r holds, Theorem 4.1 gives that all stationary solutions
are attractors.
Case 1 + r < η. Since α(r, w) < 1 < 1 + r < η holds for all 0 ≤ w < 1 and r > 0,
Theorem 3.2(b) implies the existence of both types of solution. Theorem 4.1(c) gives
that the trivial solution is a saddle point and the normal solution an attractor.
Finally, we recall that the categorization of the steady-state solutions made in
this section should be accompanied with the steady-state chart in Fig. 3, in which
the location of the feed point (uf , (1 + r)Quf ) reveals whether the steady state has
an under-, over- or critically loaded settler.
In the applied literature, an important parameter for characterizing the ASP is
the sludge age,23 which is the length of time a solid particle has undergone aeration.
In steady state, it is defined as the ratio between the mass in the biological reactor
and the mass per time unit leaving the system:
V uf
θu := . (5.5)
(1 − w)Que + wQuu
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400 S. Diehl & S. Farås

This parameter depends on the steady-state solution. The effluent concentration of


the biomass ue is normally small. In the case of an underloaded or critically loaded
settler, ue = 0 holds and all sludge is transported through the thickening zone;
Φf = Φth . Then Eqs. (3.6) and (3.8) imply (1 + r)uf = (r + w)uu . For ue = 0 the
sludge age is in fact independent of the solution and we define the following time
variable (w > 0):
V uf V (r + w) τ
τu := τu (Q, r, w) := θu |ue =0 = = = . (5.6)
wQuu Qw(1 + r) α
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If there is no recirculation, τu (Q, 0, w) = τ holds. With recirculation τu is greater


than τ , since α < 1. Then, an alternative way of writing the inequalities related to
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Fig. 12 is

η ≶ α ⇔ (µ(Sin ) − b)τu ≶ 1.

Hence, the sludge age must be sufficiently high for the ASP to work properly.

6. A Simulation
For the numerical simulation of the dynamic model equations (2.5)–(2.8), we use
a fixed grid in time and space. The fluxes of the hyperbolic conservation PDEs
are approximated by the consistent Enguist–Osher numerical flux, adapted to han-
dle the spatial discontinuities.7 Explicit Euler time steps are used and are bounded
by the spatial grid size via the standard CFL condition for the PDEs. The height
of the clarification zone has been set to H = 1 m and the depth of the thickening
zone to B = 3 m.
In the simulation shown in Fig. 13, we demonstrate the fact that the trivial
solution may be an attractor or a saddle point, and finally that the normal solution
is an attractor. This implies that there will be a small amount of biomass in the
ASP and the settler will be underloaded during the whole simulation. Hence, there
is no biomass in the clarification zone and only a small amount in the thickening
zone wherefore we do not show the simulated values of u(x, t). The desired optimal
operation, when there is a sludge blanket in the thickening zone, requires specific
values of the control parameters.21

Initial data. Given the example parameter values (3.11), we change the fol-
lowing: Q = 1500 m3/h, r = 0.3, w = 0.02. Then the inequality η(Q, Sin ) ≈
0.063 < α(r, w) ≈ 0.081 holds. According to Table 2, there exists a normal
steady-state solution, since uin = 0.1 kg/m3 > 0. The biological reactor con-
centrations are (Sf , uf ) ≈ (0.074, 1.99) kg/m3 . The settler is underloaded since
E(r, w, Q) ≈ −3.3 kg/m3 < 0 holds. This steady state is used as the initial data at
t = 0 h, see the first 50 h in Fig. 13. The biomass concentration in the settler u(·, t)
during this time period is zero in the clarification zone and the constant 0.28 kg/m3
in the thickening zone.
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 401

1.5

0.5

0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
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0.4

0.3
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0.2

0.1

0
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500

1.8

1.6

1.4

1.2

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4

Fig. 13. The biological reactor concentrations during a dynamic simulation with the starting
point (Sf (0), uf (0)) ≈ (0.074, 1.99) kg/m3 and input step changes at t = 50 h and t = 1600 h.
January 4, 2013 9:28 WSPC/103-M3AS 1250050

402 S. Diehl & S. Farås

At t = 50 h, uin is set to zero. Convergence to a trivial steady state.


According to Table 2, only the trivial solution (Sin , uf ) = (0.2, 0) exists as a steady
state and the simulation shows a convergence to this point; cf. the vector field in
Fig. 8(right). At t = 1600 h, the point of the orbit (Sf (1600), uf (1600)) ≈ (0.2, 0)
lies very close to the S-axis, however, just above it. The biomass concentration in
the settler is approximately zero.
Input steps at t = 1600 h and behavior near trivial saddle point. At t =
1600 h, we change two of the input variables: Q = 90 m3/h and Sin = 0.4 kg/m3 .
Then η(Q, Sin ) ≈ 1.39 > 1.3 = 1 + r holds. According to Table 2 and Theorem 4.1,
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the new steady state is the trivial solution (Sin , uf ) = (0.4, 0) kg/m3 , which is a
saddle point of the vector field shown in Fig. 11(right). As time passes, the orbit
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moves from (Sf (1600), uf (1600)) ≈ (0.2, 0) just above the S-axis, which is now an
attracting manifold, towards (0.4, 0). As the orbit is close to this point, the vector
field is approximately as the one in Fig. 11(right). At point (Sf (1700), uf (1700)) ≈
(0.35, 0), the orbit is close to the repelling manifold of the saddle point (0.4, 0)
of the autonomous system. It turns away and converges to a normal steady-state
solution. Note that the latter normal solution is not the attracting equilibrium
point of Fig. 11(right), since the vector field changes dynamically because of the
recirculation and hence time-dependence of uu (t) and Su (t).
The final normal steady-state solution calculated by (3.23)–(3.24) is (Sf , uf ) ≈
(0.024, 0.87) kg/m3 , which is in accordance with the simulation. The settler is still
underloaded with the low concentration 0.0068 kg/m3 in the thickening zone and
the underflow concentration uu ≈ 3.53 kg/m3 .

7. Conclusion
The incoming sewage stream to a wastewater treatment plant contains different
components of substrate (organic material and nutrients). The purpose of an acti-
vated sludge process (ASP) within a wastewater treatment plant is to let micro-
organisms (biomass) reduce the substrate in a biological reactor. There are several
fundamental nonlinear features of the ASP which make its prediction and control
difficult. One such feature is the nonlinear behavior of the continuous sedimentation
process of the biological sludge in the settler, which is modeled by a PDE with dis-
continuous coefficients. Another nonlinear feature is caused by the recirculation of
the underflow of the settler to the biological reactor, which processes are modeled
by ODEs. The simplest possible model consists of only two components; partly
substrate that should be reduced, and partly biomass that lives within the ASP
and should be kept there. The conservation of mass together with one constitutive
assumption for each component yields a model consisting of two ODEs and two
PDEs; see Eqs. (2.5)–(2.8).
The lacking link in previous publications on this problem has been knowledge
and formulas for the steady-state solutions of the settler PDEs. A key ingredient in
this paper is therefore the formula (3.3) from Ref. 17, which states the steady-state
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A Model for the Activated Sludge Process: Classification and Stability of Steady States 403

flux in the thickening zone of the settler Φth as a function of the feed concentration
uf into the settler, the incoming volumetric flow Q and the control parameters r and
w. This function is continuous but not differentiable at a specific feed concentration,
which is related to the “limiting flux”, a concept often used in the wastewater
treatment community.19
The classification of the steady states can be found in Theorems 3.1 (trivial
operating conditions) and 3.2 (normal operating conditions). In case there is no
incoming biomass, uin = 0, which is the most common case in reality, there always
exists a solution with no biomass in the ASP; the trivial solution. The condition
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for the additional existence of a normal steady-state solution (in the case uin = 0)
involves the other two input variables Sin and Q, as well as the reactor volume V
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and the two control parameters r and w. This raises the question on the control
of steady states. In particular, one wants to control the ASP such that the effluent
substrate concentration is reduced subject to that the ASP is in the desired steady
state with a sludge blanket in the thickening zone of the settler. This is the topic
for a subsequent paper.21
Theorem 4 gives detailed conditions on the stability of a given steady-state solu-
tion, normal or trivial one, with respect to a disturbance in the biological reactor.
Before such a disturbance has propagated through the settler and the recirculation
pipe, the two reactor ODEs are autonomous and their vector fields have been ana-
lyzed. A normal solution is always an attractor, not only a local. An overview of
the steady-state solutions and their stability is given by Table 2 (in Sec. 5), where
the division is made according to the three input variables Sin , uin and Q, and
the control parameters r and w. This table should be complemented by a table of
the possible steady states for the settler, which is given in Ref. 17. The most simi-
lar results found in the literature are from 1987 by Sheintuch,33 who obtained, by
physical reasoning, results partly in agreement with those in Table 2. The concept
“sludge age” is often used in the wastewater treatment community and its relation
to the results in Table 2 can be found at the end of Sec. 5. In agreement with plant
operator experience, a result is that the sludge age should be sufficiently high for
the ASP to work properly.

Acknowledgment
This work has been supported by the Foundation for Engineering Scientific Research
to the Memory of J. Gust. Richert, SWECO AB, Sweden.

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