Wastewater from a typical poultry processing plant in the southeastern U.S.A. was treated on site with a pilot-scale anaerobic packed-bed reactor. The reactor had a working volume of 3.2 m3, was filled with 15-cm diameter polyethylene random-pack media, and was operated at 35°C with a retention time of 21 hours and at a loading rate of 2.8 kgCOD/m3d−1. Under these conditions, treatment efficiencies were sufficient to meet typical surcharge-free municipal discharge requirements, with effluent soluble COD of 440 mg/L, soluble BOD5 of 190 mg/L, fats, oil and grease (FOG) of 10 mg/L, and total suspended solids of 140 mg/L. Results from pilot operation are compared to those of previous laboratory-scale studies, where similar results were obtained with less than half of the hydraulic retention time. Differences in treatment on pilot vs. laboratory scale were largely due to differences in wastewater variability and reactor operation. Recommendations for future studies to reduce the costs of treatment, including emphasis on types of low-cost packing, amounts of packing media, and heating requirements are presented.

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