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Paper N0: IV.07

Wastewater Aeration Using by Plunging Water Jet Aerators

Dražen Vouk
Goran Gjetvaj
Davor Malus

Abstract: This paper gives wastewater aeration analysis by implementing the

“plunging water jet” aerators. To clarify the characteristics of such aeration
process, physical model was designed consisting of: inlet chamber with constant
water surface level and jet-designed outlet (nozzles), and receiving pool
representing biological reactor. Variational parameters were number of nozzles,
their effective diameter and angle, as well as flow and velocity of resulting water
Besides measurements of hydraulic parameters, the aim was to determine
dissolved oxygen enrichment in biological reactor, depending on specific nozzle
parameters. One of the goals was to find the optimal combination of such
parameters that would result in maximum aeration rate. The study was carried
out using the potable water from public water supply system.
Based on resulting aeration efficiency it is possible to estimate the possibility and
adequacy of plunging water jet aerators application within the specific site
conditions. The final purpose was to reduce the total construction, operational
and maintenance costs of wastewater treatment plants, concurrently increasing
their treatment efficiency.
Keywords: wastewater treatment, dissolved oxygen, aeration, plunging water jet,
biological reactor

1. Introduction

Dissolved oxygen is limiting factor throughout the life cycle in aquatic ecosystems.
Concerning the wastewater disposal to water bodies, oxygen enrichment is of significant
importance. Natural (aquatic-based) wastewater treatment systems are becoming relatively
common practice all round the world. Three most frequently used forms of such systems are
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lagoons, stabilization ponds and constructed wetlands. Treatment processes involved in these
systems are similar to those in natural water bodies (river, lake, sea, etc.). For that reason it is
necessary to provide enough detention time of wastewater in the system. Low construction,
operational and maintenance costs, construction simplicity and high treatment efficiency
make these a good alternative in sanitary wastewaters treatment, especially in small and
decentralized rural areas. Their successful application could be expended in highway runoff
Limited finances of Croatian municipalities are restrictive factor to conventional
wastewater treatment plants construction. So, the emphasis is given to alternative,
economically beneficial solutions with satisfactory treatment efficiency – natural treatment
systems (biological reactors). Enough dissolved oxygen concentration for organic matter
oxidation is the key element that will provide successful and effective operation for different
forms of treatment systems as well as for natural biological reactors. Next to the natural
sources for dissolved oxygen including surface reaeration and photosynthesis, there are
several ways to satisfy the required oxygen demand. Due to technological development,
numerous solutions and possibilities for dissolved oxygen enrichment in water bodies are
present nowdays. Artificial aeration systems in the form of physical facilities such as
diffused-air aeration, mechanical aerators etc., are used to improve the overall treatment
processes, but require additional power sources which results with increased construction,
operational and maintenance costs. Therefore, there is much emphasis on examination of
alternative methods for wastewater aeration in biological reactors. Such alternative methods
are easily applicable in hilly areas by using available energy in the form of naturally available
hydraulic head.
Aeration properties of different hydraulic structures have been investigated for decades.
Baylar and Bagatur (1999) investigated the aeration efficiency at sharp-crested weirs having
different cross-sectional geometry. Gjetvaj (2005) analyzed the water aeration rate by
discharging it over the filter bed (passive aeration pump system). Numerous studies were also
conducted observing water jet aeration efficiency (Sene 1988, Bin 1993, Chanson 1995,
Cummings and Chanson 1997, Chanson and Brattberg 1998, Chanson and Manasseh 2003).
The present paper describes new experiments into the performance of jet aeration.
Aeration experiments were conducted using a hydraulic model designed in the Hydraulic
Laboratory at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Zagreb, Croatia. Model describes the
characteristics of plunging water jet aerators and their oxygen enrichment rate. In comparison
with earlier investigations based mostly on impact of jet-designed outlet (nozzles) geometry
and jet (drop) high, this study investigates dissolved oxygen enrichment in natural biological
reactors in dependence of the following parameters - number of nozzles, their effective
diameter and angle, as well as flow and velocity of resulting water jets. Every single change
of given parameters results with different aeration rate (air-entrainment efficiency). Besides
possibility and adequacy estimation of new aeration method (plunging water jet) application,
physical model measurements should have resulted with revealing the optimal combination of
such parameters that would result in maximum aeration efficiency.
Wastewater Aeration Using by Plunging Water Jet Aerators 315

2. Experimental setup

Given analysis is based on the experimental results from physical model specially designed
for that purpose. During the experiments, dissolved oxygen concentrations were measured
continually with goal of finding out its dependence on variational parameters. Defining the
optimal values of such parameters, one would strive to achieve as favorable aeration
conditions concurrently increasing wastewater treatment efficiency. Each experiment was
carried out using clean water from public water supply system. Main reasons were simplicity
of modeling and avoidance of daily discharge fluctuations. Concerning the main aspects of
given analysis, it should be pointed out that wastewater has less oxygen solvent ability
comparing to clean water. Sanitary wastewater contains soaps and detergents that cause such
bounding surface between air bubbles and water resulting with lower aeration efficiency.
Consequently, this fact needs to be considered during the computed results analysis and the
final conclusion drawing.

2.1. Model description

Natural biological reactors are appropriate method for wastewater treatment in rural areas,
dislocated from urban centers. Considering this fact, experiment was carried out under flow
rates varying from approximately 1,5 to 2,5 l/s. These flow rates suit the settlements with
population number from 850 to 1500 (according to ATV recommendations with specific flow
rate of 150,0 l/person/day). With reference to given flow rates and selected size of nozzles,
resulting plunging water jet velocities varied between 0,75 and 4,1 m/s. Thompson weir, as
one of the most convenient apparatus for low flow rates measuring, was used for that purpose.
Measured flow values were then used to calculate jet velocities. Designing the model in scale
1:1, allow direct application of computed result. Model consists of following elements:
• inlet chamber
• jet-designed outlet (nozzles)
• biological reactor

Inlet chamber was used to develop such a head to provide required jet velocities and steady-
state regime. Concerning the main goal to determine dissolved oxygen enrichment in
biological reactor, water preaeration before reaching the reactor had to bi avoided. Therefore,
supply pipes had to be submerged into the inlet chamber and during the initial state of inlet
chamber loading special care was taken to reduce the turbulence that might cause water
preaeration. Filling the inlet chamber with water was carefully regulated using the flow-
control valves.
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Figure 1 Physical model scheme

Inlet chamber outlet is specially designed to form jet inflow into the biological reactor. That
jet-designed outlet is shaped of PVC material (pipes and fittings) and is fixed near the
chamber bottom. Outlet dimensioning was performed while keeping in mind two parameters.
First was endeavoring to achieve as higher jet velocities, but at the same time to reduce the
possibility of pipe clogging (concerning the fact that wastewater contains suspended solids
that might settle down and cause pipe clogging). When a water jet impinges downstream
water pool (biological reactor) its velocity impacts bubble penetration depth. Higher jet
velocities result with deeper penetration and greater turbulent mixing, consequentially
increasing oxygen transfer rate. Important factor is necessity to ensure some form of
mechanical pretreatment (septic tanks, settling tanks, grit and grease separators), before the
wastewater reaches the natural biological reactor. Therefore, outlet pipes diameter shouldn’t
be smaller than Ø28mm. Following this proposition, outlet pipes Ø28 and Ø50 mm were
Biological reactor is shaped in elongated parallelepiped form, with one end facing
towards the inlet chamber (jet-designed outlet) and other is formed as Thompson weir.
Wastewater Aeration Using by Plunging Water Jet Aerators 317

Biological reactor

Jet-designed outlet Jet-designed outlet

Figure 2 Detailed view of jet-designed outlet

2.2. Measurement program

All investigations were carried out with purpose to determine plunging water jet influence on
dissolved oxygen enrichment in biological reactor. Modifying different outlet elements it was
trying to find its optimal shape, in fact, find a solution that will result with maximum aeration
efficiency. Parameters that were changed during experiment are number of nozzles, their
effective diameter and angle, jet flow and velocity. Every change of these parameters
describes one scenario whose results have been processed separately. Total number of
processed scenarios within the given investigation was 54 (Table 1). One goal was to find
optimal combination of such parameters that would result in maximum aeration rate.

Table 1 Analyzed scenarios

Number of Nozzle size Jet flow rate

Scenarios Jet angle
nozzles (diameter), (mm) (l/s)
1 - 18 2 28 1,5; 2,0; 2,5 90, 75, 60, 45, 30, 15
18 - 36 1 28 1,5; 2,0; 2,5 90, 75, 60, 45, 30, 15
36 - 54 1 50 1,5; 2,0; 2,5 90, 75, 60, 45, 30, 15

Each element of the model was designed to fit the exact size of natural wastewater treatment
system defined with 850-1500 population equivalents. The whole model was sized to provide
as higher jet velocities with resulting flow rates between 1,5 and 2,5 l/s. Selected flow rates
were controlled by different water levels in inlet chamber.
Variational water levels involve different jet velocities. Flow rates were measured using
Thompson weir and needle-type ruler that was positioned at the middle of downstream pool.
Oxygen transfer (aeration) efficiency could be expressed as (Gulliver, 1990):

Cb − Cu
E= (1)
C s − Cu
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where numerator describes dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration increment ∆C (mgO2/l)

expressed as the difference between measured DO values in biological reactor (Cb) and inlet
chamber (Cu), and denominator describes initial DO deficit expressed as difference between
saturation concentration (Cs), at which equilibrium with the gas phase is achieved, and
upstream DO concentration in inlet chamber (Cu). Saturation concentration is function of
water temperature, salinity and barometric pressure. Due to negligible changes in water
temperature on the model, constant saturation value Cs was assumed, taken from literature
(Metcalf & Eddy, 1991). At water temperature 12,7ºC, selected saturation value is 10,6
mgO2/l. Previous investigations have shown that aeration efficiency is sensitive to water
characteristics, primarily its temperature and quality. Temperature effects on oxygen transfer
rate are defined with temperature correction factors. Gulliver (1990) applied previous
theoretical discussions and developed the relationship:

1 − E 20 = (1 − E )1 / f (2)

where E = transfer efficiency at the water temperature of measurement, E20 = transfer

efficiency at 20ºC. The exponent f is described as follows:

f = 1,0 + 0,02103(T − 20) + 8,261 ⋅ 10 −5 (T − 20) 2 (3)

It was already mentioned that investigation was carried out using potable water from public
water supply system. Thus, daily fluctuations of certain input parameters were avoided. In
addition, water quality effects on aeration efficiency could’ve been ignored. Measuring DO
concentrations in inlet chamber, insignificant daily oscillations were recorded ranging
between 5,50 and 6,75 mgO2/l.
Dissolved oxygen concentration measurements were taken using digital oxygen meter.
Meter was calibrated, prior to each use, following the procedure recommended by the
manufacturer. Dissolved oxygen was measured at several different points, selected to best
represent the contents of the tank (Figure 3). All measurement points are common to each
scenario. Concerning the same point location, measurements were taken at two depths (5,0
and 30,0cm below the water surface). With purpose of reducing the probability of mistake,
multiple measurements were taken for each point (including premeasurements in inlet
chamber). Therefore, the reliability of the final results increases.

Figure 3 Measurement points layout

Wastewater Aeration Using by Plunging Water Jet Aerators 319

2.3. Results
The results of experiments are referred to measured DO concentrations in biological reactor.
Obtained measurements have shown aeration efficiency of plunging water jets. Based on
measured values, oxygen transfer efficiency, E20, was calculated using equations (1) and (2).
Adopting efficiency value, E20, as output parameter is yielding an easier comparison with
other aeration methods or with results achieved in different circumstances (different water
temperatures, etc.).

Q=1,5 l/s
Q=2,0 l/s
Aeration efficiency, E20

0,60 Q=2,5 l/s

0 15 30 45 60 75 90 105

Jet angle

a) 2 x Ø28mm

0,70 0,70
0,65 0,65 Q=1,5 l/s
Aeration efficiency, E20
Aeration efficiency, E20

0,60 0,60 Q=2,0 l/s

0,55 0,55 Q=2,5 l/s
0,50 0,50
0,45 0,45
0,40 0,40
0,35 Q=1,5 l/s 0,35
0,30 Q=2,0 l/s 0,30
Q=2,5 l/s
0,25 0,25
0,20 0,20
0 15 30 45 60 75 90 105 0 15 30 45 60 75 90 105

Jet angle Jet angle

b) 1 x Ø28mm c) 1 x Ø50mm

Figure 4 Variations in aeration efficiency with respect to jet angle and flow rate

The following sections discuss the E20 results referring to measurement point 12, at outlet
from biological reactor. The present analysis has shown that flow rate and jet velocity are
important factors influencing oxygen transfer rate in biological reactor. The results are
presented in graphical view (Figures 4 and 5). Figure 4 shows variations in aeration efficiency
with respect to jet angle and different flow rates. Figure 5 also shows efficiency variations,
but with respect to outlet (nozzles) properties while the change in flow rate is constant.
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2 x Ø28mm
1 x Ø28mm

Aeration efficiency, E20

1 x Ø50mm







0 15 30 45 60 75 90 105

Jet angle

a) Q=1,5 l/s

0,70 0,70

0,65 0,65
Aeration efficiency, E20
Aeration efficiency, E20

0,60 0,60

0,55 0,55

0,50 0,50

0,45 0,45

0,40 0,40
2 x Ø28mm
0,35 2 x Ø28mm 0,35

1 x Ø28mm 0,30
1 x Ø28mm

1 x Ø50mm 1 x Ø50mm
0,25 0,25

0,20 0,20
0 15 30 45 60 75 90 105 0 15 30 45 60 75 90 105

Jet angle Jet angle

b) Q=2,0 l/s c) Q=2,5 l/s

Figure 5 Variations in aeration efficiency with respect to jet angle and outlet (nozzle) properties

All of these graphs show proportional relation between jet velocity and aeration efficiency.
This observation had been expected since higher velocities cause greater turbulent mixing and
deeper jet penetration into the biological reactor.
Thus, air bubbles have longer retention time inside the water column that results with
higher aeration rates. On the other hand, jet angle decrement below 30º was observed to
breakup the jet. Breaking up into discrete droplets, energy resource (potential) of the jet
decreases as well as bubble penetration depth and hence overall aeration efficiency decreases.
Relation between jet angle and aeration efficiency hasn’t been strictly determined.
It was observed during the investigation that jet angle is indirectly related with outlet
properties (number of nozzles and their effective diameter) and resulted jet velocity.
Concerning lower jet velocities, jet angle was found to be proportional with aeration
efficiency. Greater aeration efficiencies are related to higher velocities, as it is case for
the 1xØ28mm. Jet angle of 45º was found to have the greatest values of oxygen transfer
efficiency. Different aeration efficiencies within the given analyzes could be explained
by forming different jet shapes. Each scenario is characterized by its unique jet shape,
which obviously strongly influences overall efficiency.
Wastewater Aeration Using by Plunging Water Jet Aerators 321

Increasing the number of nozzles on account of reduced jet velocities has negative
impact on aeration efficiency. Therefore, oxygen transfer rate is reduced within double jets
(Figure 2). The greatest efficiency value achieved for the scenarios with double jets was 0,51
with jet angle of 90º and flow rate of 2,0 l/s.
Single jet design with 1xØ28mm and jet angle of 45º was found to have the greatest
values of oxygen transfer efficiency. Maximum efficiency value, achieved during
experiments, was E20 = 0,62 with flow rate of 2,5 l/s.
In comparison with commercial aerators with their efficiency of 1,2 kgO2/kWh,
plunging water jets have shown to be adequate alternative, especially in hilly areas by using
naturally available hydraulic head and thus avoid additional power input. Even if there is need
to pump the wastewater to develop desirable head, this type of aeration has shown acceptable
efficiency. For instance, observing the same investigation with use of external energy to raise
the water head cca 80 cm will result with overall efficiency of 0,78 kgO2/kWh.


A series of laboratory experiments were carried out with purpose to measure aeration
performance of plunging water jets. From conducted investigation, following conclusions
may be drawn:
• Investigation confirms preliminary assumptions about dominant influence of jet
velocities on aeration efficiency. Higher jet velocities result with greater efficiency.
• Jet velocities are indirectly dependent of its geometry (shape and diameter). Jet
velocity is function of water level in inlet chamber. At steady flow rate, nozzle
diameter decrement entails raising the water level in inlet chamber and thus, higher
jet velocities.
• Increasing the number of nozzles, at steady flow rate and fixed nozzles diameter, will
result with lower jet velocities and thus, oxygen transfer rate decrease.
• Jet angle influence on aeration efficiency hasn’t been strictly determined. At higher
jet velocities, the greatest efficiency is achieved with jet angle of 45º. At lower jet
velocities proportional relation between jet angle and oxygen transfer rate was
observed, with greatest aeration efficiency at 90º.
• Jet angle decrement was observed to affect jet breakup with adverse influence on
aeration efficiency.
• Single jet design with jet angle of 45º was found to have the greatest values of
oxygen transfer efficiency.
• Plunging water jets advantages have also been manifested through better mixing
performance inside the biological reactor. The reason for this was found in higher
horizontal component of the velocity inside the reactor, which was observed to be
favorable circumstance especially for reactors with circular flow.
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• Concerning subsequent investigations, a model with wastewater from households is

proposed. That is considered to result with higher reliability of the final results on
aeration efficiency inside the biological reactor. It is also proposed to carry out an
investigation with higher flow rates and jet velocities, as well as to design a model
with larger biological reactor and larger number of jets.

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Assistant Dražen Vouk: University of Zagreb, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Kačićeva 26, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia,
Professor Goran Gjetvaj: University of Zagreb, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Kačićeva 26, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia,
Professor Davor Malus: University of Zagreb, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Kačićeva 26, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia,