Hypolimnetic Oxygenation: Coupling Bubble-Plume and Reservoir Models

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Virginia Tech


When properly designed, hypolimnetic aeration and oxygenation systems can replenish dissolved oxygen in water bodies while preserving stratification. A comprehensive literature review of design methods for the three primary devices was completed. Using fundamental principles, a discrete-bubble model was first developed to predict plume dynamics and gas transfer for a circular bubble-plume diffuser. This approach has subsequently been validated in a large vertical tank and applied successfully at full-scale to an airlift aerator as well as to both circular and linear bubble-plume diffusers. The unified suite of models, all based on simple discrete-bubble dynamics, represents the current state-of-the-art for designing systems to add oxygen to stratified lakes and reservoirs.

An existing linear bubble plume model was improved, and data collected from a full-scale diffuser installed in Spring Hollow Reservoir, Virginia (U.S.A.) were used to validate the model. The depth of maximum plume rise was simulated well for two of the three diffuser tests. Temperature predictions deviated from measured profiles near the maximum plume rise height, but predicted dissolved oxygen profiles compared very well to observations. Oxygen transfer within the hypolimnion was independent of all parameters except initial bubble radius. The results of this work suggest that plume dynamics and oxygen transfer can successfully be predicted for linear bubble plumes using the discrete-bubble approach.

To model the complex interaction between a bubble plume used for hypolimnetic oxygenation and the ambient water body, a model for a linear bubble plume was coupled to two reservoir models, CE-QUAL-W2 (W2) and Si3D. In simulations with a rectangular basin, predicted oxygen addition was directly proportional to the update frequency of the plume model. W2 calculated less oxygen input to the basin than Si3D and significantly less mixing within the hypolimnion. The coupled models were then applied to a simplified test of a full-scale linear diffuser. Both the W2 and Si3D coupled models predicted bulk hypolimnetic DO concentrations well. Warming within the hypolimnion was overestimated by both models, but more so by W2. The lower vertical resolution of the reservoir grid in W2 caused the plume rise height to be over-predicted, enhancing erosion of the thermocline.



CE-QUAL-W2, water quality modeling, hydrodynamic modeling, bubble plume, hypolimnetic aeration, hypolimnetic oxygenation, Si3D