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Integrated side-stream reactor for biological nutrient removal and minimization of sludge production

Integrated processes to reduce in situ the sludge production in wastewater treatment plants are gaining attention in order to facilitate excess sludge management. In contrast to post-treatments, such as anaerobic digestion which is placed between the activated sludge system and dewatering processes, integrated technologies are placed in the sludge return line. This study evaluates the application of an anoxic side-stream reactor (SSR) which creates a physiological shock and uncouples the biomass metabolism and diverts the activity from assimilation for biosynthesis to non-growth activities. The effect of this system in biological nutrient removal for both nitrogen and phosphorus was evaluated for the anaerobic, anoxic and aerobic reactors. The RedOx potential within the SSR was maintained at 150 mV while the sludge loading rate was modified by increasing the percentage of recycled activated sludge feed to the SSR (0 and 40% at laboratory scale and 0, 10, 50 and 100% at pilot scale). The use of the SSR presented a slight reduction of phosphorus removal but maintained the effluent quality to the required discharge values. Nitrogen removal efficiency increased from 75 to 86% while reducing the sludge production rate by 18.3%.

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