Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling for the Design of Large Primary Settling Tanks

Xiaofeng Liu, Marcelo H. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Settling tanks are used to remove solids at wastewater treatment plants. Many numerical models have been proposed to simulate the settling process and to improve tank efficiency. In this research, a three-dimensional (3D) numerical model is developed to simulate large primary settling tanks. In the proposed model, the non-Newtonian properties of the sludge flow in the settling tank are described by a Bingham plastic rheological model. To eliminate the singularity inherited in the rheological model, a modified constitutive relation is used in both the yielded and unyielded regions. Hindered settling of particles in the settling tank is also modeled. Tracer study, where a massless scalar is injected and transported, is done to investigate the tank's residence time. This numerical model is used to improve the design of the primary settling tanks, which will be built in Chicago. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) is in the process of building new preliminary treatment facilities at their Calumet Water Reclamation Plant (CWRP), including twelve 155-ft-diameter primary settling tanks (PSTs) designed to treat flows up to (480 million gal./day (MGD). The computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model simulated solids removal efficiencies based on a particle size distribution similar to the one observed in the CWRP influent. The results were used to establish the design basis for tank side-water depth, inlet feedwell dimensions, etc., resulting in improved performance and substantial reduction in construction costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-355
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 3 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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