A systematic experimental study of the effect of hydraulic residence time (HRT) and solids residence time (SRT) on conventional suspended-growth biological wastewater treatment processes was carried out. The aim of this study was to identify the conditions that minimise the reactor volume, i.e. maximise the organic load rate (OLR), and minimise the oxygen consumption. Lab-scale sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) were operated with glucose or ethanol as only carbon sources, with HRT in the range 0.25-4 day and SRT in the range 1-71 day. The highest OLR values which gave satisfactory performance were 4.28 and 4.14 gCOD/l.day for glucose and ethanol, respectively, which are among the highest reported for conventional aerobic suspended-growth processes. The highest OLR values were obtained with HRT=0.25 day, SRT=3.1 day for glucose and HRT=0.5 day, SRT=4.9 day for ethanol. The minimum oxygen consumption was 0.36 and 0.69 kg O2/kg COD removed for glucose and ethanol, respectively. In disagreement with conventional theories, it was found that biomass production also depended on the OLR as well as on the SRT, higher OLRs giving lower biomass production for the same SRT. From the kinetic analysis of the experimental data, this behaviour, which has important consequences for the design of biological wastewater treatment processes, was explained with a higher rate of endogenous metabolism at higher OLRs.
- Aerobic wastewater treatment
- hydraulic residence time (HRT)
- organic load rate (OLR)
- solids residence time (SRT)
- oxygen consumption