Equalization characteristics of the upflow sludge blanket – aerated bio-filter (USB-AF) were investigated with the fluctuated raw domestic sewage. Recycle of nitrified effluent from AF to USB triggered the equalization characteristics of the sludge blanket on both soluble and particulate organic matter. Increment of EPS in sludge blanket by nitrate recycle was detected and removal of turbidity and particulates increased at higher recycle ratios by bio-flocculation. Increased TCOD removal in the USB was due to both denitrification of recycled nitrate and entrapment of the particulate organic matter in sludge blanket. Capture of both soluble and particulate organic matter increased sludge blanket layer in the USB, which improved the reactor performances and reduced the organic load on the subsequent AF. Overall TCOD and SS removal efficiencies were about 98% and 96%, respectively in the USB-AF system. Turbidity in the USB effluent was about 44, 20 and 5.5 NTU, at recycle ratios of 0, 100 and 200%, respectively. Particle counts in the range 2–4 μm in the USB effluent were higher than those in influent without nitrate recycle, while particle counts in the range of 0.5–15 μm in the USB effluent decreased 70% at recycle ratio of 200%. The major constituent of EPS extracted from anaerobic sludge was protein and total EPS increased from 109.1 to 165.7 mg/g-VSS with nitrate recycle of 100%. Removal efficiency and concentration of T-N in the UBS-AF effluent was over 70% and below 16 mg/L, respectively.

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