This paper describes and discusses the principal ideas and parameters related to the application, design and operation of wastewater treatment systems using the upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor (UASB). The differences in the process brought about by the high or low concentration of organic material in the wastewater to be treated are pointed out in each consideration.

The purpose of this paper is to make the development of simple, but safe and efficient UASB reactor treatment units, by technicians not necessarily highly specialized in the subject, possible. It also attempts to point out problems which are not yet completely solved in order to help in the preparation of future research and development plans.

A number of possible questions that deal with the following subjects are discussed:

  • types of waste which can be treated by the UASB reactor

  • concentrated wastes (for example, stillage from sugar-cane) and diluted wastes (for example, domestic sewage)

  • necessity of pre- and post-treatment

  • temperature

  • shape and dimensions of the reactor

  • criteria and details for design

  • start-up, operation and control of the unit

  • forecasts of efficiency, costs, etc.

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