Reducing operating costs of wastewater treatment using fluorescence spectroscopy

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have shown how fluorescence spectroscopy can improve the accuracy and speed of water quality measurements.

The EU-funded Fluoro-BOOST project aims to provide the water industry with an improved method to test wastewater quality using developments in the field of fluorescence spectroscopy, which will lead to more accurate treatment, delivering cost savings through more efficient use of resources.

Water treatment

A common method of water quality monitoring at wastewater treatment works is the offline five-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) test.  Whilst this is prevalent in the industry, it is resource intensive, slow to deliver results and carries an uncertainty of 10-15 percent. This leads to over treatment of wastewater and wasted resources to ensure the water quality meets regulation standards.

John Bridgeman, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Birmingham said, ‘The improved speed, accuracy and reliability of Fluoro-BOOST could deliver significant improvements to the water treatment industry’.

Dr Elfrida Carstea, a researcher at the School of Civil Engineering funded under a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship has been working on the project and developing the processes necessary to ensure a good correlation between BOD5 and fluorescence data.

Carstea said, ‘There have been several challenges we had to overcome, not least keeping the sensors clean and ensuring temperature doesn’t affect the recording, however overall the method developed during the Fluoro-BOOST project delivers a significant improvement in accuracy’.