Biological phosphorus and nitrogen removal in sequencing batch reactors: effects of cycle length, dissolved oxygen concentration and influent particulate matter

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Removal of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) from municipal wastewaters is required to mitigate eutrophication of receiving water bodies. While most treatment plants achieve good N removal using influent carbon (C), the use of influent C to facilitate enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is poorly explored. A number of operational parameters can facilitate optimum use of influent C and this study investigated the effects of cycle length, dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration during aerobic period and influent solids on biological P and N removal in sequencing batch reactors (SRBs) using municipal wastewaters. Increasing cycle length from 3 to 6 h increased P removal efficiency, which was attributed to larger portion of N being removed via nitrite pathway and more biodegradable organic C becoming available for EBPR. Further increasing cycle length from 6 to 8 h decreased P removal efficiencies as the demand for biodegradable organic C for denitrification increased as a result of complete nitrification. Decreasing DO concentration in the aerobic period from 2 to 0.8 mg L−1 increased P removal efficiency but decreased nitrification rates possibly due to oxygen limitation. Further, sedimented wastewater was proved to be a better influent stream than non-sedimented wastewater possibility due to the detrimental effect of particulate matter on biological nutrient removal.

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