The anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) treating communal wastewater under mesophilic conditions: a review

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

A review concerning the anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) treating communal wastewater under mesophilic conditions is presented. Existing studies indicate strong resilience of the reactor towards loading variations and shock-loads. The compartmentalisation of the ABR is a strongly stabilising factor with feed fluctuations being evened out across reactor chambers. Significant chemical oxygen demand (COD) reduction occurs almost exclusively in the first three chambers. The hydraulic rather than the organic loading rate is treatment limiting. Laboratory-scale studies show high treatment efficiencies of above 80% COD removal. It was found that most laboratory-scale studies do not factor in important aspects of field operation, such as diurnal fluctuations of feed characteristics, adequate start-up periods and periods of constant loading and optimised chamber outlet design, and never studied the effect of loading on sludge digestion. Performance data on full-scale ABR implementations, however, are extremely scarce, and existing studies are without exception affected by site-specific treatment-limiting factors hindering the extrapolation of generally valid conclusions. In view of a large-scale roll-out, communal ABRs are not sufficiently understood. Current challenges concerning the optimisation of reactor design require numerous well-monitored long-term full-scale reactor investigations. Existing ABR investigations yield encouraging results, supporting that the ABR may be one of the solutions answering the global call for low-maintenance, robust treatment systems.

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