Operation strategy of a sequencing batch reactor for simultaneous removal of wastewater organic matter and nutrients

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  • Grace L.W. Leung
  • N. F Y Tam


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Journal / PublicationResources, Conservation and Recycling
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 1994


The Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) system employing activated sludge process is an alternative wastewater treatment technology. A cycle of the conventional SBR system generally consists of five periods, with complete aeration during the React period to oxidize the organic matter and nitrify the ammonium-nitrogen of wastewater. Laboratory-scale reactors were used to evaluate the feasibility of incorporating alternative aerobic-anoxic-aerobic stages within the React period for simultaneous removal of organic matter, N and P. Two cycles of SBR process per day were maintained. Under the operation strategy of 0.75-h fill, 8-h react (with continuous aeration), 3.25-h settle, draw and idle periods, the treatment performance became consistent after running the system for two to four cycles (1-2 days). The percentages of both BOD5 and COD removal were around 94% from Cycle 2 onwards, the BOD5 content dropped from initial 251 mg L-1 to less than 14 mg L-1 in the final effluent. A steady nitrification (about 97%) was obtained from Cycle 4 onwards, with 1 mg NH4+-N L-1 and 25 mg NO3--N L-1 present in the final effluent. This suggested that the time required for SBR system to acclimate and reach an equilibrium state was relatively short when compared with the time needed for continuous flow activated sludge system. The findings also show that 4-h aeration during the react period was long enough to achieve more than 90% nitrification. With the incorporation of a 3-h anoxic stage after the initial 4-h aeration of the react period, a satisfactory denitrification process was observed, with nitrate level dropped from 27 to around 8 mg L-1 within 3 h. The second aeration stage did not cause significant change in wastewater nitrogen content. The wastewater phosphate content declined rapidly during the initial 4-h aeration and P-release was not observed during the anoxic stage. A slight reduction of P was found in the second aeration stage suggesting that more P-uptake occurred in this stage. A 12-h cyclic SBR system with the incorporation of 4-h aerobic, 3-h anoxic and final 1-h aerobic stages into the 8-h react period was demonstrated to be able to remove C, N and P simultaneously. © 1994.