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Urban Water InterfacesInitial project plan


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Initial project plan

State of the art and preliminary work

In recent years, there have been significant changes in urban wastewater disposal systems: (i) the increasing centralisation of wastewater disposal has led to the extension of sewer networks, causing long hydraulic retention times, (ii) also, the specific wastewater is decreasing amount, while the pollutant load is not changed and causes odour and corrosion due to sulphuric acid in pipelines, shafts, and special structures. The combination of i and ii can have negative results on the wastewater treatment and can even be dangerous to the human health. Although several empirical formulas can predict H2S (e.g. Pomeroy 1970, Thistlethwayte 1972, Nielsen et al. 1998, Urban et al. 2011), they can only be used under very restrictive conditions, and are not suitable for the implementation and the control of countermeasures (Barjenbruch 2010, Saračević 2009). Many measures have been developed to prevent odour and corrosion in sewer networks, mainly based on operational experience. These fall into 3 categories: (i) sewage treatment to prevent H2S formation, or eliminate H2S, or inhibit its transfer to the atmosphere, (ii) treatment of gas, or (iii) the use of non-corrosive material (Barjenbruch et al. 2008). Independent studies comparing the efficiency of corrosion and odour control show that more basic research on the mechanisms of action of countermeasures is necessary (Barjenbruch et al. 2004, Saračević 2009, Frey 2008). There is only little knowledge of the application of control systems because companies usually do not publish specific technical details. Also, the interaction between the biofilm and the construction material is hardly investigated (Alexander et al. 2013) and it is still not clear, why some biofilms are corrosive and others are not or even form a protective layer. Recently developed inorganic binders with higher acid resistance cannot stand this atmosphere (Tänzer et. al 2012). To do this basic research, the Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB), being a partner in this doctoral thesis, has constructed a special pilot plant (two 200 m pressure pipes, and 25 m gravity flow) (Barjenbruch & Rettig 2011) where the effects of odour and corrosion control can be investigated for different kinds of material species.

Aims and work steps

The aim of the thesis is to gain knowledge of the interface behaviour of the sulphurous cycles in sewers (wastewater - atmosphere - biofilm - construction material). Investigation of the basic parameters of sulphurous conversion and transport under different conditions (e.g. temperature) will lead to develop a prediction and control model for the application of countermeasures against odour and corrosion in sewer networks. To achieve this aim, the BWB pilot plant will be operated and equipped with a new sensor system for online measurements, thus providing a specific and deeper knowledge of the biological, chemical and physical processes. As for ironoxidizing bacteria (Braun et al. 2009), new, specific FISH probes will be developed for the investigation of sulphur-oxidizing bacteria. The interface between biofilm and the wall offers the unique approach to determine the biofilm population by a confocal fluorescence microscopy while examining the microstructure of the boundary layers with optical and scanning electron microscopy as well as micro-diffraction. The resistant to corrosion will be tested for several new concrete mixtures and coating materials in the pilot plant. The testing of chemical countermeasures will be carried out to investigate the basic mechanisms, to determine the appropriate countermeasure, and to implement a new concept to control it. Furthermore, practical recommendations for effective handling of countermeasures and  appropriate materials will be given to operators of sewer networks. This doctoral thesis will provide many  parameters and test cases for the three-phase simulation model (see T3).

Connections to interfaces and other doctoral theses

This doctoral thesis will be very closely connected to T3 (simulation model) and N1 (FISH probes, biofilm). Interface processes and the methodology of measurements between water and air will be analysed together with N3 and N4. Further common topics related to sulphurous processes will be discussed with T1 and T4.


Alexander,M, Bertron,A. & De Belie,N. (2013): Performance of Cement-Based Materials in Aggressive Aqueous Environments (RILEM TC211-PAE). Springer Science+Business Media, Dordrecht

Barjenbruch,M. (2010): Unterirdische Infrastruktursysteme: Konkurrenzen, Potentiale und Belastungen für das Grundwasser. Workshop „Verlagerung und Umwandlung von Stoffen: Eintragspfade und Abbauprozesse“ der acatech - Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften, Koblenz, 05.10.2010

Barjenbruch,M. & Dohse,C. (2004): Bewertung von Maßnahmen zur Verringerung von Geruchs und Korrosionserscheinungen im Kanalnetz des ländlichen Raumes. Report, LAWA

Barjenbruch,M., Hinkelmann,R., Hüttl,R., Huhnt,W., Krämer,T., Nehrig,M., Rühmland,S. & Röben,R. (2008): An Online-Monitoring and Operation System to Prevent Odour and Corrosion in Sewer Networks-Feasibilty Study. Report, KompetenzZentrum Wasser gGmbH

Barjenbruch,M. & Rettig,S (2011): Technische Lösungen zur Vermeidung von Geruch und Korrosion mit ersten Ergebnissen einer Testreihe von Gegenmaßnahmen. 15. Abwasserbilanz Brandenburg, Wildau, 12.12.2011

Braun,B., Richert,I. & Szewzyk,U. (2009): Detection of iron-depositing Pedomicrobium species in native biofilms from the Odertal National Park by a new, specific FISH probe. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 79 (1), 37-41, DOI:10.1016/j.mimet.2009.07.014

Frey,M. (2008): Untersuchungen zur Sulfidbildung und zur Effizienz der Geruchsminimierung durch Zugabe von Additiven in Abwasserkanalisationen. Kassel University Press, ISBN 978-3-89958-453-0

Nielsen,P.H., Raunkjaer, K. & Hvitved-Jacobsen, T. (1998): Sulfide production and wastewater quality in pressure mains. Water Sci. Technol., 37, 97-104

Pomeroy,R.D. (1970): Sanitary sewer design for hydrogen sulphide control. Public works, Bd. 101, No. 10, 93-96

Saračević,E. (2009): Zur Kenntnis der Schwefelwasserstoffbildung und -vermeidung in Abwasserdruckleitungen. Wiener Mitteilungen, Vol. 211, ISBN 978-3-85234-103-3

Tänzer,R., Stephan,D. & Schmidt,M. (2012): Alkali-Activated Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag Binders for High Performance Concretes with Improved Acid Resistance. 3rd International Symposium on UHPC and Nanotechnology for Construction Materials, Kassel, 385-392

Thistlethwayte,D.K.B. (1972): The control of sulphides in sewerage systems. Section of Environmental Engineering Department of Life Sciences, Aalborg University, Butterworths

Urban,U., & Heilmann,A. (2011): Möglichkeiten der Belüftung von Druckleitungen zur Minderung von Geruch und Korrosion. 4. OWL Abwassertag, Section of Environmental Engineering Department of Life Sciences, Aalborg University



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