Aerobic granular sludge was produced in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) characterized by a height to diameter ratio of 2.5 and the use of mechanical stirring. Compact and regular aerobic granules of up to 1.75 mm of average diameter were formed in the reactor with an organic loading rate of 1.75 kg COD/(m3 d). Settling properties of the obtained aggregates were: sludge volumetric index of 30–40 mL/g VSS and settling velocity higher than 8 m/h. The effects of different carbon to nitrogen ratios (TOC/N) in the feeding on the organic matter oxidation and nitrification process were studied. The concentration of organic matter in the feeding was stepwise reduced (from 190.0 to 37.5 mg TOC/L) and ammonium increased (from 25 to 50 mg NH4+-N/L). TOC/N ratios of 7.50, 3.00, 1.50 and 0.75 g/g in the feeding were tested. The TOC removal percentage was around 80–95% during the whole operational period and the N removal percentages obtained in the reactor were up to 40%, however, physical properties of the granules were not maintained.
Keywords: feeding composition, granular biomass, organic load, reactor configuration, SBR