Optimizing sequencing batch reactor (SBR) reactor operation for treatment of dairy wastewater with aerobic granular sludge

M Wichern, M Lübken, H Horn
Water Science and Technology: a Journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research 2008, 58 (6): 1199-206
The biological wastewater treatment using aerobic granular sludge is a new and very promising method, which is predominantly used in SBR reactors which have higher volumetric conversion rates than methods with flocculent sludge. With suitable reactor operation, flocculent biomass will accumulate into globular aggregates, due to the creation of increased substrate gradients and high shearing power degrees. In the research project described in this paper dairy wastewater with a high particle load was treated with aerobic granular sludge in an SBR reactor. A dynamic mathematical model was developed describing COD and nitrogen removal as well as typical biofilm processes such as diffusion or substrate limitation in greater detail. The calibrated model was excellently able to reproduce the measuring data despite of strongly varying wastewater composition. In this paper scenario calculations with a calibrated biokinetic model were executed to evaluate the effect of different operation strategies for the granular SBR. Modeling results showed that the granules with an average diameter of 2.5 mm had an aerobic layer in between 65-95 microm. Density of the granules was 40 kgVSS/m3. Results revealed amongst others optimal operation conditions for nitrogen removal with oxygen concentrations below 5 gO2/m3. Lower oxygen concentrations led to thinner aerobic but thicker anoxic granular layers with higher nitrate removal efficiencies. Total SBR-cycle times should be in between 360-480 minutes. Reduction of the cycle time from 480 to 360 minutes with a 50% higher throughput resulted in an increase of peak nitrogen effluent concentrations by 40%. Considering biochemical processes the volumetric loading rate for dairy wastewater should be higher than 4.5 kgCOD/(m3*d). Higher COD input load with a COD-based volumetric loading rate of 9.0 kgCOD/(m3*d) nearly led to complete nitrogen removal. Under different operational conditions average nitrification rates up to 5 gNH/(m3*h) and denitrification rates up to 3.7 gNO/(m3*h) were achieved.

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