This work describes laboratory scale research about Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal (EBPR) in a submerged biofilter under Anaerobic/Oxic (A/O) alternation and continuous feed. Its main purpose is to detail the behaviour of the reactor throughout the anaerobic and the aerobic phases of the A/O cycle, to study the importance of the anaerobic phase in the selection of the EBPR bacteria in the biofilm and to evaluate the consumption and the importance of the organic substrate during the anaerobic phase. The mass balance over the Phosphorus (P) element indicates that long anaerobic phases (6 h) are more efficient than short ones (3 h) as a selector of EBPR bacteria in biofilms.
In both comparisons, thespecific mass of P released in a 6 h period represents almost 50% more than the amount of P release in the shorter period (3 h). However, the presence of rapidly biodegradable COD in the influent of the anaerobic phase is a more effective selector, more important than the duration of the anaerobic phase: by doubling the amount of acetic acid in the influent, a similar 50% increase of P-release can be achieved at short anaerobic periods of 3 h. The effect of the strategy adopted in this study, focusing on selecting EBPR bacteria in biofilm, is shown by the P levels of 4% (total P/SST) in the sludge removed from the BF by backwashing in all periods.