This study has determined the purification performance and the basic principles for the design of an anaerobic SBR (ASBR) to be used to treat wastewater generated in the food industries. Two ASBR's were set up and one fed with a slaughterhouse effluent at low concentration, the other with concentrated dairy wastewater. The maximum loading rate applied should not exceed 4.5 g of COD/L/day for the dilute effluent and 6 g of COD/L/day for the concentrated effluent. At higher loading rates, the reactors become difficult to operate, mainly because of sludge removal problems, and purification efficiency declines. A detailed study of the kinetics (TOC, VFA, rate of biogas production) throughout one treatment cycle led to the development of a simple control strategy based on the monitoring of the biogas production rate which was then applied to the reactor treating the dairy wastewater. After automation, the reactor worked free of problems at an average pollution load of 5.4 g of COD/L/day.

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