A model to Predict the Behavior of UASB Reactors

Document Type: Original Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden. Facultad de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería (UNI), Nicaragua

2 Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract

A model describing the main processes occurring in the UASB reactor was developed; in order
to maintain simplicity and applicability of the model, only the fundamental aspects were considered. In the
model, the reactor is divided in several well-stirred reactors coupled in series and it comprises substrate
degradation, biomass growth and the reactions that take place within the granules. The important contribution of the paper is the development of a model taking into account the mass transfer through the film around the granules, the intra-particle diffusion, and the degradation reaction. The model enables the determination of the removal efficiency of the substrate and the increase of both the height of the sludge bed and the granule size with time. The simulated results of an experimental UASB reactor treating sugar-cane mill wastewater were found to be in good agreement with the performance of the reactor. The sensitivity analysis shows that the performance of the reactor is determined by several parameters. The most important parameters are: the bioconversion rate, the mass transfer coefficient in the film, the intra-particle diffusivity, the volumetric fraction of biomass in the reactor, and the number of CSTR considered. These parameters should therefore be carefully determined. The model could be a useful tool in the optimization and development of UASB reactors.

Keywords