Modelling the performance of an integrated fixed-film activated sludge (IFAS) system: a systematic approach to automated calibration

D. Pryce*, Z. Kapelan, F. A. Memon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


IFAS systems are inherently complex due to the hybrid use of both suspended and attached bacterial colonies for the purpose of pollutant degradation as part of wastewater treatment. This poses challenges when attempting to represent these systems mathematically due to the vast number of parameters involved. Besides becoming convoluted, large effort will be incurred during model calibration. This paper demonstrates a systematic approach to calibration of an IFAS process model that incorporates two sensitivity analyses to identify influential parameters and detect collinearity from a subset of 68 kinetic and stoichiometric parameters, and the use of the Nelder–Mead optimization algorithm to estimate the required values of these parameters. The model considers the removal of three critical pollutants including biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total nitrogen (TN) and total suspended solids (TSS). Results from the sensitivity analyses identified four parameters that were the primary influence on the model. The model was found to be most sensitive to the two stoichiometric parameters including aerobic heterotrophic yield on soluble substrate whose total effects were responsible for 92.4% of the model’s BOD output sensitivity and 92.8% of the model’s TSS output sensitivity. The anoxic heterotrophic yield on soluble substrate was observed to be responsible for 54.3% of the model’s TN output sensitivity. To a lesser extent the two kinetic parameters, aerobic heterotrophic decay rate and reduction factor for denitrification on nitrite, were responsible for only 8.0% and 13.1% of the model’s BOD and TN output sensitivities respectively. Parameter estimation identified the need for only minor adjustments to default values in order to achieve sufficient accuracy of simulation with deviation from observed data to be only ± 3.6 mg/L, ± 1.3 mg/L, and ± 9.5 mg/L for BOD, TN and TSS respectively. Validation showed the model was limited in its capacity to predict system behaviour under extreme dissolved oxygen stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9416
Number of pages19
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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