The anaerobic technology application for domestic sewage treatment in Pernambuco State (Brazil) is relatively recent. Some UASB reactors of less than 250 m3 were built in the Recife Metropolitan Region (RMR) in the 1990s. Mangueira (18,000 inhabitants) was the first neighborhood where the municipality built a plant with a bigger UASB reactor of 810 m3. It was intended to evaluate the performance and verify if such technology would be feasible. The objective would be the possible application of UASB reactors to the RMR, according to the new sewage master-plan under elaboration that would benefit about 3 million inhabitants.
The monitoring of the Mangueira UASB reactor over 30 months showed that satisfactory results were obtained. Three distinct operational phases occurred, in which efficiency varied from 60% up to 90% based on COD removal. The results were very dependent on the operation and maintenance, either in the plant or in the sewage collection. Significant amount of inert solids was measured inside the reactor. Despite the operational problems, the UASB was shown to be very robust and stable. Under high fluctuation of influent concentrations (150-750 mg COD/L) during the period, resulting in applied organic loading rate of 0.5 to 2.5 kg COD/m3.d, the average values of COD removal efficiency did not change significantly. An active biomass with specific methanogenic activity varying from 0.18 to 0.25 gCOD/gVSS.d was measured at the end of the period.