High organic load and fluctuation in organic load in terms of total phenols is fed into a SBR of higher height and diameter ratio (H/D 20) and operated at 4 h cycle basis with a volumetric exchange ratio of 50% resulting in a constant HRT of 8 h. Successful cultivation of aerobic granules was achieved. Aerobic granulation technology system withstands the inhibitory effect as well as fluctuation of organic load and a better efficiency as compared to traditional activated sludge process. Maximum phenol concentration of 650 mg l−1 is treated efficiently in 4 h which is equal to an organic load of 3.9 kg m−3 d−1. After granulation the effluent phenol and COD concentrations were 3 mg l−1 and 41 mg l−1 respectively. Phenol removal efficiency and COD removal efficiency of 94% and 95% were achieved. Effluent O.D.600 stabilizes at 0.15 which corresponds to minimum loss of biomass, which is the main advantage of SBR.

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