Mathematical modeling and simulation of physical-chemical processes for the recovery of compounds in wastewater treatment plants

Finaned by:

Ministerio de economía y competitividad

File reference number: CTM2015-70794-R
Programa: R + D + i Program Oriented to Society's Challenges


  • Ceit

  • Tecnun – Universidad de Navarra (como asociado)


In recent years there has been a paradigm shift in the conception of wastewater. Whereas in the past wastewater was conceived as a source of contamination that had to be treated prior to its discharge into a receiving channel, today wastewater can be conceived as a source of resources such as organic matter, nutrients and inorganic compounds in addition to water and energy . This new conception orients the challenges of research and development mainly in two areas: (1) design of new technologies that allow the recovery of resources from residual water and / or mud and (2) solutions in the operation of the plants of water treatment that allow, through a global analysis of mass and energy incorporating all the biological, chemical and physical-chemical processes that can take place in it, to identify the optimal operation strategy from an economic and environmental point of view.

In the specific context of the recovery of inorganic compounds (nutrients and metals), mathematical modeling and simulation are presented as a tool of great interest in the two areas covered. On the one hand, the development of mathematical models based on CFD techniques constitutes a very valuable tool to describe the phenomena of mass transfer between solid and liquid phases, fundamental in the recovery of these compounds and that allows taking into account effects such as hydraulic conditions and of reactor geometry. On the other hand, the comprehensive plant modeling and simulation that describes plant configurations combining conventional technologies and technologies oriented to the recovery of these resources, will allow obtaining optimal design and operation solutions considering economic and environmental sustainability. With all this, the main objective of the project is the development and validation of mathematical modeling and simulation tools that allow obtaining optimal solutions, considering environmental and economic sustainability, in the design and operation of technologies and strategies for the recovery of valuable inorganic compounds. as nutrients and metals in wastewater treatment plants. The tasks set out to achieve this objective are fundamentally three: (1) development of a CFD-based mathematical model that describes in detail the most relevant physical-chemical processes in nutrient / metal recovery technologies, (2) calibration and experimental validation models developed at pilot and real level and (3) development of methodologies that allow simplifying CFD-based models to zonal models based on approximation of reactors in complete mixing so that they can be included in comprehensive plant modeling libraries and used to simulate optimal solutions.

Ceit's role in the project

Individual Coordinate.



Paloma Grau

Paloma Grau