Application of machine learning techniques to model a full-scale wastewater treatment plant with biological nutrient removal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


A full-scale biological nutrient removal wastewater treatment process was simulated using artificial intelligence. In wastewater treatment plants, adaptive machine learning models can reduce process disruptions and generate savings through optimized operation. Machine learning is also useful when simulating processes that are particularly complex and where the physio-chemical interactions are not well understood, such as biological nutrients removal. Current models in literature only focus on the prediction of a small number of effluent parameters using a direct input-output approach. This paper presents a machine learning ensemble model that combines artificial neural networks, adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference systems, and support vector regression to predict 15 process parameters that include biomass properties, operation parameters, and effluent characteristics. A historical dataset between 2010 and 2020 was used to develop and validate the model. The model features a six-stage modular model structure where each parameter was predicted using a separate model and based on the preceding predicted parameters. The average correlation coefficient, normalized root mean square error, and symmetric mean absolute error of 69%, 0.06%, and 7.5%, respectively. The ensemble approach improved the average prediction accuracy over individual base models by 5%. The model developed in this study was more versatile than other machine learning models in the literature and relatively reduced the ambiguity of black-box data-driven models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107430
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Activated sludge modelingBiological nitrogen removal
  • Adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference systems
  • Artificial neural networks
  • Machine learning ensembles
  • Support vector regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Application of machine learning techniques to model a full-scale wastewater treatment plant with biological nutrient removal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this