Piggery wastewater is characterized by its high content in nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as by a low C/N ratio. This type of wastewater is traditionally spread to croplands (with its subsequent leaching to groundwater) or rarely discharged into natural water bodies, which ultimately cause severe episodes of eutrophication in aquatic ecosystems. In this context, activated sludge systems constitute a robust and efficient treatment option. The performance of an activated sludge process using a pre-denitrification configuration treating both sieved and flocculated swine slurry at a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 7.7 days was evaluated. In order to avoid bacterial wash-out, sludge from the settler was recirculated to the anoxic tank to accomplish denitrification. Once the biomass was acclimatized, the reactor was fed with swine slurry containing 19, 2.6, and 0.27 g/L of total chemical oxygen demand (COD), total Kjeldhal nitrogen (TKN), and soluble P, respectively. Nitrogen removal showed a clear dependency on the influent composition. When the influent TKN/total COD and soluble COD/total COD ratios were respectively 0.12–0.15 and 0.7, the reactor exhibited good removal efficiencies (up to 99 and 91 for N‐NH4+, TKN, respectively) while PO43− was removed up to 65%. However, when the influent TKN/total COD ratio rose to 0.26 and soluble COD/total COD decreased to 0.3, the denitrification process was severly hindered concomitant with and accumulation of nitrite. Nevertheless, organic matter degradation was not affected by influent composition. At the last stage of the experiment, removals of dissolved phosphorus fell to 40% when the redox potential (ORP) profile showed a constant value of −400 mV, likely due to phosphate released from bacterial slugde.

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