Belissima – modelling removal of OMPs in wastewater

The presence of organic micropollutants (OMPs) in wastewater has a big impact on the aquatic environment. Given that most of these substances end up in the water cycle via the sewer system, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) constitute the central point for their removal. The removal efficiency for separate OMPs will vary from one WWTP to another. Furthermore, the load of these pollutants varies over time, which can also influence the removal performance. The better the OMPs are removed by the WWTPs – for example, by means of follow-up treatment with advanced oxidation processes, activated carbon or membrane filtration – the more positive the impact on the discharged effluent, and thereby also on the aquatic environment in the receiving water bodies. The development of a software tool for the conduct of optimisation studies could enable the more efficient removal of OMPs.


A WWTP removes a large proportion of some OMPs, while other OMPs are more persistent. Follow-up treatment stages are therefore necessary. By modelling what occurs in a WWTP, one obtains a picture of the performance and the optimisation of the OMP removal, including what this means in terms of operational cost savings and effluent-quality improvement. The processes that the modelling focuses on are the conventional activated sludge (CAS) system and several relevant follow-up processing stages for OMP removal.


The core of the project is based on the modelling of CAS and follow-up treatment technologies for the optimisation of the OMP removal. This breaks down into two main parts:

  1. Modelling of the CAS system with OMP removal, including a black-box tool to support the selection of follow-up treatment technologies;
  2. Modelling of Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs) using Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships (QSAR).

While the first part primarily involves applied research, the second part has a strong basic research component. Both parts are supported by experimental tests intended to eliminate the gaps in the literature and the data. Pilot-plant experiments will provide additional support for the AOP modelling.


The software tool produced by this project will allow the user to conduct optimisation studies so as to enhance the OMP removal performance, improve the effluent quality and optimise operational costs.