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Water Science & Technology: Water Supply Vol 1 No 4 pp 177–184 © IWA Publishing 2001

Uncertainty in air stripping tower design: implications of the air-to-water ratio

B.I. Dvorak* and J.W. Schauble**

*Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0531, USA
**Burns and McDonnell, 10625 Scripps Ranch Boulevard, Suite A, San Diego, CA 92131, USA

Environmental engineers are frequently faced with uncertainty in making design decisions because the true value of many process parameters is unknown. In this study, the design of countercurrent air stripping towers was modeled using fuzzy numbers, taking into account uncertainties in mass transfer and Henry's constant. It was found that, in addition to cost, the risk of failure is an important design consideration for stripping tower design. A significant over-design is both cost-effective and results in less risk of design failure. The air-to-water ratio that yielded the least risk of failure switched from low to high as the removal efficiency of the tower increased. An important result is that at lower removal efficiencies, tower design and operation is most sensitive to uncertainties in mass transfer and at higher removal efficiencies, tower design and operation is most sensitive to uncertainties in Henry's constant . The implication is that low air-to-water ratios are best when the regulatory target removal efficiency is low and/or when the uncertainty in the value of the contaminant's Henry's constant is larger than the uncertainty in the mass transfer coefficient value. Otherwise a high air-to-water ratio results in the least risk of process failure.

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