Domestic sewage treatment in up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors has presented significant results in tropical regions. This reactor configuration has proven to be efficient in removing organic matter and total suspended solids as well as in producing smaller amounts of excess sludge than conventional aerobic reactor. On the other hand, its effluent often requires to be post-treated in order to achieve the emission standards.

This paper is concerned with the alternative proposed here for treating domestic sewage in a combined anaerobic-aerobic system composed of an UASB reactor followed by sequencing batch aerobic reactors (SBR). In such a system, the UASB reactor removes considerable fraction of the influent organic matter, while the SBRs oxidize part of the remaining organic matter and ammonium nitrogen. A proper system operation would also permit the removal of nutrients (N and P).

In order to investigate on the performance of this system for sewage treatment, a bench scale installation fed with synthetic substrate simulating domestic sewage was operated continuously during 38 weeks. The results permit to confirm the hypothesis proposed, since the system has consistently produced high quality effluents (BOD5 and VSS lower than 10 mg.L-1).

The results also indicate that such combined anaerobic-aerobic system compete favorably with conventional aerobic systems in three essential cost features: energy consumption, excess sludge production and nutrient removal.

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