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Aeration Blower Sizing Calculation

Aeration Blower Sizing Calculation: An In-Depth Guide


Aeration systems are a critical component in various industries, particularly in wastewater treatment facilities and aquaculture farms. These systems facilitate the transfer of oxygen into water, which is essential for the biochemical processes that break down contaminants and support aquatic life. Central to the efficiency of aeration systems are aeration blowers, which supply the necessary compressed air. Getting the sizing calculation right for these blowers is crucial for optimal performance and energy efficiency. This article will delve into the details of aeration blower sizing calculations, providing a comprehensive guide to understanding the principles, methodologies, and considerations involved.

Why Aeration Blower Sizing Matters

Accurate sizing of aeration blowers ensures:

  1. Optimal Performance: Correctly sized blowers deliver the appropriate amount of air required for effective aeration processes.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Appropriately sized blowers consume less energy, leading to significant cost savings in the long run.
  3. System Longevity: Properly sized equipment experiences less wear and tear, which can prolong its operational lifespan.
  4. Environmental Compliance: Correct blower sizing can help in meeting regulatory standards related to water quality and environmental protection.

Basics of Aeration Blower Sizing

Aeration blower sizing is influenced by several factors, including the type of aeration system, the characteristics of the wastewater or aquaculture environment, and the specific oxygen transfer requirements. Here are the key concepts:

  1. Oxygen Requirement (OR): The amount of oxygen needed by the biological process, usually expressed in kilograms or pounds per day.
  2. Standard Oxygen Transfer Efficiency (SOTE): The efficiency with which oxygen is transferred from the air into the water, typically represented as a percentage.
  3. Alpha Factor (α): Represents the efficiency of oxygen transfer in wastewater compared to clean water.
  4. Beta Factor (β): Accounts for the reduced solubility of oxygen in wastewater compared to clean water.
  5. Oxygen Solubility: Influenced by factors like temperature, salinity, and altitude.

Equation for Oxygen Transfer

The fundamental equation for calculating the oxygen transfer rate in an aeration system is:

[ \text{OTR} = \text{SOR} \times \alpha \times \beta \times (\frac{C_s – C_b}{C_s}) ]


  • ( OTR ) = Oxygen Transfer Rate
  • ( SOR ) = Standard Oxygen Requirement
  • ( \alpha ) = Alpha Factor
  • ( \beta ) = Beta Factor
  • ( C_s ) = Saturation Concentration of Oxygen in Water
  • ( C_b ) = Background Oxygen Concentration in Water

Step-by-Step Aeration Blower Sizing Calculation

To size an aeration blower properly, follow these steps:

Step 1: Determine the Oxygen Requirement (OR)

Calculate the total oxygen demand for the system. This is usually derived from biological oxygen demand (BOD) or chemical oxygen demand (COD).

[ OR = \left( \frac{BOD \times Flow \times Safety\ Factor}{\text{Oxygen Transfer Efficiency} (OTE)} \right) ]

Step 2: Standard Oxygen Requirements (SOR)

Convert the oxygen requirement into standard conditions (20°C, 1 atm):

[ SOR = OR \times \frac{1}{\alpha \times \beta} \times \left( \frac{T_w – T_d}{T_w} \right) ]


  • ( T_w ) = Working Temperature
  • ( T_d ) = Design Temperature

Step 3: Calculate Airflow Requirement

Determine the amount of air needed by considering the required oxygen transfer and the oxygen concentration in the air (approximately 21%).

[ Q_{air} = \frac{SOR}{0.21 \times \text{Oxygen Solubility}} ]

Where ( Q_{air} ) is the volumetric airflow required.

Step 4: Consider System Efficiency

Factor in the efficiency of the aeration diffuser and the blower itself:

[ Q{actual} = Q{air} \times \frac{1}{\text{Diffuser\ Efficiency}} \times \text{Blower\ Efficiency} ]

Step 5: Pressure Requirements

Determine the blower discharge pressure required. This is influenced by water depth, friction losses, and any additional system resistance:

[ P = (0.433 \times \text{Water\ Depth}) + \text{System\ Losses} ]

Step 6: Select the Blower

With the calculated airflow and pressure requirements, select an appropriate blower from the manufacturer’s performance curves.

Practical Considerations

Environmental Conditions

Different environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and altitude impact the performance of aeration blowers. Proper adjustments must be made to ensure accurate sizing.

Future Expansion

In some instances, it might be worthwhile to consider future expansion needs when sizing blowers. This ensures that the system can handle increased loads without necessitating significant upgrades.


Factoring in redundancy is critical in applications where uninterrupted operation is non-negotiable. This typically involves sizing multiple smaller blowers rather than a single large unit.

Energy Efficiency

Blowers are one of the largest energy consumers in wastewater treatment plants. Investing in energy-efficient models or those equipped with variable frequency drives (VFDs) can lead to substantial operational cost savings.

Advanced Calculations

For more advanced and precise sizing, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations and real-time monitoring systems can offer deeper insights.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

CFD models can simulate how water and air interact, allowing for optimization of aeration system designs. These simulations take into account various physical and chemical parameters, providing detailed insight into system performance.

Real-time Monitoring and Control

Modern blowers can be equipped with sensors and control systems that monitor performance in real-time. This not only aids in early detection of maintenance needs but also allows for dynamic adjustments to improve efficiency.

Case Study: Aeration Blower Sizing for a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant


A municipal wastewater treatment plant is experiencing issues with its existing aeration system. The plant handles an average flow of 10 million gallons per day (MGD) with a BOD of 200 mg/L.

Determining the Oxygen Requirement

The first step is calculating the oxygen requirement (OR):

[ OR = \left( \frac{200 \, \text{mg/L} \times 10^6 \, \text{L/day} \times 1.5}{0.6} \right) ]

[ OR = 5000 \, \text{kg/day} ]

Standard Oxygen Requirements

Convert the OR to standard conditions:

[ SOR = 5000 \, \text{kg/day} \times \frac{1}{0.85 \times 0.95} ]

[ SOR \approx 6190 \, \text{kg/day} ]

Calculating Airflow Requirement

Next, determine the airflow based on SOR:

[ Q_{air} = \frac{6190 \, \text{kg/day}}{0.21 \times 0.0027 \, \text{kg/L}} ]

[ Q_{air} \approx 10,543,210 \, \text{L/day} ]

Considering System Efficiency

Taking system efficiency into account:

[ Q_{actual} = 10,543,210 \, \text{L/day} \times \frac{1}{0.5} \approx 21,086,420 \, \text{L/day} ]

Determining Pressure Requirements

For a typical depth of 4 meters:

[ P = 0.433 \times 4 \, \text{m} + \text{System\ Losses} ]

Assuming system losses of 0.5 psi:

[ P = 4.444 + 0.5 \, \text{psi} = 4.944 \, \text{psi} ]

Selecting the Blower

Given the calculated airflow and pressure requirements, choose a blower that meets these criteria from available manufacturer data, possibly with an additional safety factor.


Aeration blower sizing calculations are vital for the effective and efficient operation of aeration systems. While the basic principles and steps are straightforward, real-world applications require careful attention to various influencing factors. Understanding these principles, methodologies, and considerations will enable you to make informed decisions, ensuring optimal performance and energy efficiency in your aeration systems.

From the initial concept to selecting the appropriate equipment, accurate calculations and considerations will not only improve system performance but also contribute to operational cost savings and environmental compliance. Future advances in technology and real-time monitoring will further refine these processes, paving the way for more sophisticated and efficient aeration systems.