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Last modified: 16 Nov 2016 18:26

Course Overview

This course introduces the water cycle and the need for wastewater treatment. Biological wastewater treatment is covered in detail with focus on: activated sludge process for carbon and nitrogen removal and anaerobic digestion. Chemical-physical processes for wastewater and wastegas treatment are also covered in detail: adsorption, stripping, chemical precipitation, chemical oxidation, membrane processes. The course focuses on process design based on mass balance and kinetics.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 5
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Davide Dionisi

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Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Course Aims

To provide students with an understanding of the characteristics and features of common processes to treat polluted water and air streams and to allow them to develop the skills necessary to model, analyse, and design such systems.

Main Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should:

A: have knowledge and understanding of:
•the basic terminology, concepts and used in wastewater and waste gas treatment
•kinetic modelling of biological processes in wastewater treatment
•mass balances for biological processes
•processes used for chemical-physical treatment of wastewater and waste gases
•mass balances and kinetics for chemical-physical processes
•design and scale-up methodologies

B: have gained intellectual skills so that they are able to:
•understand which are the key parameters in the design of wastewater and waste treatment processes
•use chemical engineering principles to analyse wastewater and waste gas treatment processes
•solve problems of some complexity or with some degree of novelty in wastewater and waste gas treatment

C: have gained practical skills so that they are able to:
•understand which are the critical parameters in the operation of  wastewater and waste gas treatment processes

D: have gained or improved transferable skills so that they are able to:
•use mathematical methods to check and verify analysis and design procedures.
•write well researched and well written technical reports.

Course Content

1. General introduction on the water cycle and on the need for wastewater treatment, parameters which need to be removed from wastewaters (COD, BOD, ammonia, phosphorus).

2. Biological wastewater treatment.
- activated sludge process for carbon and nitrogen removal;
- mass balances and kinetics for substrate and nitrogen removal and microbial growth;
- design of the activated sludge process based on mass balance and kinetics. Degrees of freedom and choice of the operating parameters;
- oxygen transfer in activated sludge processes. Rate of mass transfer. Design of an aeration system;
- anaerobic digestion, methane production.

3. Chemical-physical wastewater-wastegas treatment.
- adsorption from wastewaters and wastegases. Stirred vessel processes and packed-column processes. Fundamentals, isotherms, kinetics, design based on mass balances and kinetics;
- ammonia stripping. Design of a column process, based on mass balances, equilibrium and kinetics;
- chemical oxidation. Kinetics and process design;
- chemical precipitation for metals and phosphorus removal. Effect of pH on precipitation, pH calculation;
- membrane processes (ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, reverse osmosis)

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering

Contact Teaching Time

50 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


1st Attempt

1 three hour written examination (80%); two elements of continuous assessment (10% each) made of lab experiences and case study based on the lab results.
Penalties for late or non-submission of in-course work are as follows:
a) Up to one week late, 2 CGS points deducted; b) Up to two weeks late, 3 CGS point deducted;  c) More than two weeks late no marks awarded.


1 three hour written examination (100%)

Formative Assessment



Feedback will be provided on the submitted assignments.
Students requiring feedback on the exam should make appointments within this session to see the Course lecturer.

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