Mixing Requirements

The contents of an equalizing vessel must be mixed. Typically, continuous mechanical mixing is best although inlet arrangements sometimes provide the necessary homogeneity of soluble waste constituents. If settleable and floatable solids are present, the wastewater must be mixed to maintain a constant effluent concentration and prevent accumulations. For biodegradable waste, the equalization tank will develop odor problems unless aeration is provided. Aeration and mixing systems can be combined (for example, floating surface aerators).

Although mixing power levels vary with basin geometry, 0.3 l/m3 sec (18 cfm/1000 cu ft) of basin volume is the minimum to keep light solids in suspension (approximately 0.02 kW/m3 [0.1 hp/1000 gal]). Heavy solids like grits, swarf from machining, fly ash, and carbon slurries require more mixing energy. The most common approaches to mixing are baffling, mechanical agitation, aeration, or a combination of all three.


Although not a true form of mixing and less efficient than other methods, baffling prevents short-circuiting and is the most economical. Over-and-under or around-the-end baf fles can be used. Over-and-under baffles are preferable in wide equalization tanks because they provide more efficient horizontal and vertical distribution.

The influent should be introduced at the tank bottom so that the entrance velocity prevents SS in the wastewater from sinking and remaining on the bottom. Additionally, a drainage valve should be located on the influent side of the tank to allow drainage of the tank when necessary. Normally, baffling is not recommended for wastewater that has a high concentration of settleable solids.

Mechanical Mixing

Because of its high efficiency, mechanical mixing is typically recommended for smaller equalization tanks, waste-water with higher suspended concentrations, and waste streams with rapid waste strength fluctuations. Environmental engineers select mechanical mixers on the basis of pilot plant tests or data provided by manufacturers. When pilot plant results are used, geometrical similarity should be preserved, and the power input per unit volume should be maintained. Because power is wasted when water levels change by vortex formation, designers should avoid creating a vortex by mounting the mixer off center or at a vertical angle or by extending baffles out from the wall.

Because both mechanical and diffused-aeration systems must have a minimum depth to maintain mixing, extra volume should be provided below the low water level.


Mixing by aeration is the most energy-intensive of the equalization methods. In addition to mixing, aeration provides chemical oxidation of reducing compounds as well as physical stripping of volatile chemical compounds. Some states require an air discharge permit for discharging volatile organic emissions to the atmosphere or classifying an equalization tank as a process tank.

Waste gases can be used for mixing if no harmful substance is added to the wastewater. Flue gas containing large quantities of carbon dioxide can be used to mix and neutralize high-pH wastewater.

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