A novel laboratory bench-scale sequencing batch biofilm reactor (SBBR) system was developed for the treatment of synthetic domestic strength wastewater, comprising two side-by-side 18 l reactor tanks, each containing a plastic biofilm media module. Aerobic and anoxic conditions in the biofilms were effected by intermittent alternate pumping of wastewater between the two reactors. With a media surface area loading rate of 4.2 g chemical oxygen demand (COD)/m2.d, the average influent COD, total nitrogen (TN) and ammonium-nitrogen (NH4-N) concentrations of 1021 mg/l, 97 mg/l and 54 mg/l, respectively, reduced to average effluent concentrations of 72 mg COD/l, 17.8 mg TN/l, and 5.5 mg NH4-N /l. Using a similar alternating biofilm exposure arrangement, a 16 person equivalent pilot (PE) plant was constructed at a local village treatment works to remove organic carbon from highly variable settled municipal wastewater and comprised two reactors, one positioned above the other, each containing a module of cross-flow plastic media with a surface area of 100 m2. Two different pumping sequences (PS) in the aerobic phase were examined where the average influent COD concentrations were 220 and 237 mg/l for PS1 and PS2, respectively, and the final average effluent COD was consistently less than 125 mg/l – the European Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive limit – with the best performance occurring in PS1. Nitrification was evident during both PS1 and PS2 studies. A 300 PE package treatment plant was designed based on the bench-scale and pilot-scale studies, located at a local wastewater treatment works and treated municipal influent with average COD, suspended solids (SS) and TN concentrations of 295, 183 and 15 mg/l, respectively resulting in average effluent concentrations of 67 mg COD/l, 17 mg SS/l and 9 mg TN/l. The SBBR systems performed well, and were simple to construct and operate.

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