In the present study, a laboratory scale system, consisting of a primary settling tank, a continuous stirred tank reactor and a clarifier were constructed and operated, using wastewater from the municipal wastewater treatment plant in Xanthi, Greece. The system operated under intermittent aeration in aerobic/anoxic conditions and feeding of the wastewater once in every cycle. The unit was inoculated with sludge, which originated from the recirculation stream of the local wastewater treatment plant. The wastewater was processed with hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 12 h, in which various experimental states were studied regarding the combination of aerobic and anoxic intervals. The wastewater was fed in limited time once in every cycle of aerobic/anoxic conditions at the beginning of the anoxic period. The two states that exhibited highest performance in nitrification and total nitrogen removal were, then, repeated with HRT of 10 h. The results show that, regarding the nitrification stage and the organic load removal, the intermittent system achieved optimum efficiency, with an overall removal of biological oxygen demand (BOD5) and ammonium nitrogen in the range of 93–96% and 91–95% respectively. As far as the total nitrogen removal is concerned, and if the stage of the denitrification is taken into account, the performance of the intermittent system surpassed other methods, as it is shown by the total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) removal efficiency of 85–87%. These operating conditions suppressed the growth of filamentous organisms, a fact reflected at the SVI values, which were lower than 150 ml/g.
Keywords: denitrification, intermittent aeration, intermittent feeding, nitrification, wastewater treatment