Modelling of a pulp mill wastewater treatment plant for improving its performance on phosphorus removal

S. Bentancur, C. M. López-Vázquez, H. A. García*, M. Duarte, D. Travers, D. Brdjanovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The performance of a pulp mill wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was assessed using the software BioWin aiming at providing alternatives for reducing even further the phosphorus (P) concentration in the treated effluent. The WWTP was designed without nutrient removal capacities, since pulp and paper wastewater is usually deficient in nutrients. However, the hard wood (Eucalyptus) which is processed in such plant has a higher P content compared to other types of woods, and part of that P ended up in the raw wastewater to be treated. The wastewater was characterized following the Dutch STOWA protocol. Once the model was calibrated, historical data from different periods of time was used to validate the model. The model was capable of describing the current plant operation, as well as its historical performance. Moreover, the model was used to evaluate different potential upgrading scenarios for the treatment plant aiming at increasing the plant performance on P removal. According to the model, the implementation of an anaerobic phase prior to the aerobic process showed to be a feasible scenario contributing to decrease the total phosphorus (TP) concentration in the treated effluent by approximately 58 %. In addition, applying chemical precipitation can further decrease the TP concentration below 0.1 mg/L. However, further research activities such as pilot-testing may be needed to validate the previous recommendations of applying enhance biological and chemical P removal at such pulp mill wastewater treatment plant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-219
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Activated sludge
  • Modelling
  • Phosphorus removal
  • Pulp mill
  • Wastewater

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