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Activated sludge model 2d calibration with full-scale WWTP data: comparing model parameter identifiability with influent and operational uncertainty

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The present work developed a model for the description of a full-scale wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) (Manresa, Catalonia, Spain) for further plant upgrades based on the systematic parameter calibration of the activated sludge model 2d (ASM2d) using a methodology based on the Fisher information matrix. The influent was characterized for the application of the ASM2d and the confidence interval of the calibrated parameters was also assessed. No expert knowledge was necessary for model calibration and a huge available plant database was converted into more useful information. The effect of the influent and operating variables on the model fit was also studied using these variables as calibrating parameters and keeping the ASM2d kinetic and stoichiometric parameters, which traditionally are the calibration parameters, at their default values. Such an “inversion” of the traditional way of model fitting allowed evaluating the sensitivity of the main model outputs regarding the influent and the operating variables changes. This new approach is able to evaluate the capacity of the operational variables used by the WWTP feedback control loops to overcome external disturbances in the influent and kinetic/stoichiometric model parameters uncertainties. In addition, the study of the influence of operating variables on the model outputs provides useful information to select input and output variables in decentralized control structures.

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Anaerobic, anoxic and aerobic (WWTP configuration)


Activated sludge models


Biological oxygen demand (5 days)


Calibration cost function


Chemical oxygen demand


Dissolved oxygen


Enhanced biological phosphorus removal


Fisher information matrix


Glycogen accumulating organisms


International Water Association


Phosphorus accumulating organisms


Preliminary calibration cost function


Proportional-integral-derivative controller


Ratio of normalized D to modified E criteria from FIM


Sludge retention time


Total Kjeldahl nitrogen


Total nitrogen


Total suspended solids


Validation cost function


Wastewater treatment plant


Water Environment Research Foundation


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The authors greatly acknowledge to Ricard Tomas and Ana Lupón (Aigües de Manresa S.A.) all the support provided in conducting this work. Vinicius Cunha Machado has received a Pre-doctoral scholarship of the AGAUR (Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i Recerca, Catalonia, Spain), inside programs of the European Community Social Fund. This work was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CTM2010-20384). The authors are members of the GENOCOV research group (Grup de Recerca Consolidat de la Generalitat de Catalunya, 2009 SGR 815).

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Correspondence to Juan Antonio Baeza.

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Machado, V.C., Lafuente, J. & Baeza, J.A. Activated sludge model 2d calibration with full-scale WWTP data: comparing model parameter identifiability with influent and operational uncertainty. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 37, 1271–1287 (2014).

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