Use of artificial neural network black-box modeling for the prediction of wastewater treatment plants performance

Farouq S. Mjalli*, S. Al-Asheh, H. E. Alfadala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Citations (Scopus)


A reliable model for any wastewater treatment plant is essential in order to provide a tool for predicting its performance and to form a basis for controlling the operation of the process. This would minimize the operation costs and assess the stability of environmental balance. This process is complex and attains a high degree of nonlinearity due to the presence of bio-organic constituents that are difficult to model using mechanistic approaches. Predicting the plant operational parameters using conventional experimental techniques is also a time consuming step and is an obstacle in the way of efficient control of such processes. In this work, an artificial neural network (ANN) black-box modeling approach was used to acquire the knowledge base of a real wastewater plant and then used as a process model. The study signifies that the ANNs are capable of capturing the plant operation characteristics with a good degree of accuracy. A computer model is developed that incorporates the trained ANN plant model. The developed program is implemented and validated using plant-scale data obtained from a local wastewater treatment plant, namely the Doha West wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). It is used as a valuable performance assessment tool for plant operators and decision makers. The ANN model provided accurate predictions of the effluent stream, in terms of biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total suspended solids (TSS) when using COD as an input in the crude supply stream. It can be said that the ANN predictions based on three crude supply inputs together, namely BOD, COD and TSS, resulted in better ANN predictions when using only one crude supply input. Graphical user interface representation of the ANN for the Doha West WWTP data is performed and presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial neural networks
  • BOD
  • COD
  • Modeling
  • TSS
  • Wastewater plant
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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