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A practical protocol for the experimental design of comparative studies on water treatment

Long Tuan Ho (UGent) , Olivier Thas (UGent) , Wout Van Echelpoel (UGent) and Peter Goethals (UGent)
(2019) WATER. 11(1).
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Abstract
The design and execution of effective and informative experiments in comparative studies on water treatment is challenging due to their complexity and multidisciplinarity. Often, environmental engineers and researchers carefully set up their experiments based on literature information, available equipment and time, analytical methods and experimental operations. However, because of time constraints but mainly missing insight, they overlook the value of preliminary experiments, as well as statistical and modeling techniques in experimental design. In this paper, the crucial roles of these overlooked techniques are highlighted in a practical protocol with a focus on comparative studies on water treatment optimization. By integrating a detailed experimental design, lab experiment execution, and advanced data analysis, more relevant conclusions and recommendations are likely to be delivered, hence, we can maximize the outputs of these precious and numerous experiments. The protocol underlines the crucial role of three key steps, including preliminary study, predictive modeling, and statistical analysis, which are strongly recommended to avoid suboptimal designs and even the failure of experiments, leading to wasted resources and disappointing results. The applicability and relevance of this protocol is demonstrated in a case study comparing the performance of conventional activated sludge and waste stabilization ponds in a shock load scenario. From that, it is advised that in the experimental design, the aim is to make best possible use of the statistical and modeling tools but not lose sight of a scientific understanding of the water treatment processes and practical feasibility.
Keywords
experimental design, comparative studies, wastewater treatment, preliminary studies, virtual experiments, power analysis, STATISTICAL POWER, WASTE, UNCERTAINTY, SIMULATION, METHODOLOGY, ENVIRONMENT, SYSTEMS

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Ho, Long Tuan, et al. “A Practical Protocol for the Experimental Design of Comparative Studies on Water Treatment.” WATER, vol. 11, no. 1, 2019.
APA
Ho, L. T., Thas, O., Van Echelpoel, W., & Goethals, P. (2019). A practical protocol for the experimental design of comparative studies on water treatment. WATER, 11(1).
Chicago author-date
Ho, Long Tuan, Olivier Thas, Wout Van Echelpoel, and Peter Goethals. 2019. “A Practical Protocol for the Experimental Design of Comparative Studies on Water Treatment.” WATER 11 (1).
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Ho, Long Tuan, Olivier Thas, Wout Van Echelpoel, and Peter Goethals. 2019. “A Practical Protocol for the Experimental Design of Comparative Studies on Water Treatment.” WATER 11 (1).
Vancouver
1.
Ho LT, Thas O, Van Echelpoel W, Goethals P. A practical protocol for the experimental design of comparative studies on water treatment. WATER. 2019;11(1).
IEEE
[1]
L. T. Ho, O. Thas, W. Van Echelpoel, and P. Goethals, “A practical protocol for the experimental design of comparative studies on water treatment,” WATER, vol. 11, no. 1, 2019.
@article{8589331,
  abstract     = {The design and execution of effective and informative experiments in comparative studies on water treatment is challenging due to their complexity and multidisciplinarity. Often, environmental engineers and researchers carefully set up their experiments based on literature information, available equipment and time, analytical methods and experimental operations. However, because of time constraints but mainly missing insight, they overlook the value of preliminary experiments, as well as statistical and modeling techniques in experimental design. In this paper, the crucial roles of these overlooked techniques are highlighted in a practical protocol with a focus on comparative studies on water treatment optimization. By integrating a detailed experimental design, lab experiment execution, and advanced data analysis, more relevant conclusions and recommendations are likely to be delivered, hence, we can maximize the outputs of these precious and numerous experiments. The protocol underlines the crucial role of three key steps, including preliminary study, predictive modeling, and statistical analysis, which are strongly recommended to avoid suboptimal designs and even the failure of experiments, leading to wasted resources and disappointing results. The applicability and relevance of this protocol is demonstrated in a case study comparing the performance of conventional activated sludge and waste stabilization ponds in a shock load scenario. From that, it is advised that in the experimental design, the aim is to make best possible use of the statistical and modeling tools but not lose sight of a scientific understanding of the water treatment processes and practical feasibility.},
  articleno    = {162},
  author       = {Ho, Long Tuan and Thas, Olivier and Van Echelpoel, Wout and Goethals, Peter},
  issn         = {2073-4441},
  journal      = {WATER},
  keywords     = {experimental design,comparative studies,wastewater treatment,preliminary studies,virtual experiments,power analysis,STATISTICAL POWER,WASTE,UNCERTAINTY,SIMULATION,METHODOLOGY,ENVIRONMENT,SYSTEMS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {17},
  title        = {A practical protocol for the experimental design of comparative studies on water treatment},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/w11010162},
  volume       = {11},
  year         = {2019},
}

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