This study presents two strategies used to enhance the biological degradation of phenolic wastewaters. In the first one the operation of a sequencing batch biofilter added with granular activated carbon (SBB-AC) was studied. The second strategy presents the results of the automation of a sequencing batch reactor in order to optimize the reaction phase. In this case, the dissolved oxygen was employed to monitor and control the reactor. The results of the SBB-AC system, based on the configuration of the reactor, type and size of activated carbon and size of the packing material, are discussed. The system biodegraded efficiently (total phenol removals as high as 97%) high concentrations (600 mg/l) of a mixture of phenol, 4-chlorophenol, 2,4-dichlorophenol and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol. Maximal eliminated loads of 4.33 kg COD/m3-d were achieved. For the second strategy, the applicability of an optimal control for a SBR using the dissolved oxygen as the measured variable was demonstrated. When the reactor was operated under the time-optimal control strategy, the degradation time of 4-chlorophenol was reduced. A very satisfactory operation of the reactor was observed, since the removal efficiencies were around 99%.

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