Granular sludge formation was performed in a laboratory scale Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) fed with supernatant of anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge. This effluent was concentrated progressively in order to enhance biomass capacity without inhibiting it. During the first part of the study, ammonium nitrogen was converted to nitrate, so conventional nitrification took place. When a nitrogen load of 0.8 g N L−1 d−1 was treated, the effluent concentration of nitrite started to increase while the nitrate concentration decreased until it disappeared. So, partial nitrification was achieved. At the end of this study, a nitrogen load of 1.1 g N L−1 d−1 was treated obtaining an effluent with 50% ammonium and 50% nitrite. The volatile suspended solids concentration in the reactor reached 10 g VSS L−1. At this point the granule morphology was quite round and no filamentous bacteria was observed. The Feret's diameter was in the range between 1 and 6 mm with an average value of 4.5 mm. Roundness value was all the time higher than 0.7. Granule density increased during the experimental period, obtaining a final value of 7.0 g L−1.
Keywords: aerobic granulation, partial nitrification, sequential batch reactor