Master student/Intern working on the modelling of biological wastewater treatment processes

Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

Switzerland 🇨🇭

Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

The Department of Process Engineering has a vacancy for a

Master student/Intern working on the modelling of biological wastewater treatment processes

Modelling of Aerobic Granular Sludge systems: toward the development of a good modelling practice (GMP) unified protocol

Aerobic granular sludge (AGS) systems represent a relevant alternative to conventional activated sludge systems. Around 80 wastewater treatment plants based on aerobic granular sludge (AGS) and operated as sequencing batch reactors (SBR) are operational or under construction worldwide. However, their design and operation of AGS-SBR is mostly empirical. Empirical design criteria are site/situation specific, while the results of dynamic models, when properly used, can be relied up-on for generalizable accuracy (Rittmann et al., 2018). Models can for example be used by engineers for the planning, design, optimization, and evaluation of existing or new wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). But while the number of AGS systems implemented at full scale is growing rapidly, practicing engineers are still in need of a more appropriate AGS model. Eawag recently developed a complete and powerful AGS model (Derlon et al., 2022). But while this model integrates all the processes relevant to AGS systems (plug-flow feeding, selective sludge removal, SBR operation), it has not yet been calibrated and confronted with datasets from full-scale installations.

The main objective of the proposed master thesis is to critically evaluate the Eawag AGS model by confronting it to datasets from full-scale AGS installations and to develop a good modelling practice (GMP) unified protocol specific of AGS system.The specific research questions and tasks are:

  • To define what dataset is required for the calibration of AGS models (e.g., sludge bed stratification, sludge composition, effluent quality)
  • To contribute to the collection of such dataset by conducting measurement campaigns
  • To adapt the AGS model to the design/operation of Sarneraatal WWTP (e.g., implementation of an ammonia controller to control the SBR cycle)
  • To calibrate the current Eawag AGS model using these datasets
  • To aggregate the knowledge gain from this calibration effort into a GMP unified protocol

The Eawag AGS model implemented in Sumo® software will be used in this master thesis (free access and more information can be found here). This model includes a reactor model, a 1-D biofilm model and a biokinetic model (Sumo1). The reactor model consists of an available assembly of 4 completely stirred tank reactors (CSTRs) organized in series, so that plug-flow conditions are mimicked during feeding at the reactor bottom. Datasets from a full-scale AGS plant will be monitored at Alpnach-Sarneraatal WWTP, in collaboration with Wabag.

We are looking for a master student with interests in advanced technologies for biological wastewater treatment and modelling of biological wastewater treatment plants. Knowledge in modelling and data treatment is required. The candidate should be able to communicate in English. Preferred starting date is as soon as possible.

Eawag is
 a modern employer and offers an excellent working environment where staff can contribute their strengths, experience and ways of thinking. We promote gender equality and are committed to staff diversity and inclusion. The compatibility of career and family is of central importance to us. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult and

Applications can be submitted until the position is fulfilled, and will therefore be evaluated on a rolling basis. Applications should include a description of your interests, a CV and the list of lectures/grades.

For further information, please contact Dr Nicolas Derlon.

We look forward to receiving your application.
 Please send it through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. A click on the button below will take you directly to the application form.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development