The paper analyses the concept and performance of different configurations of compact UASB/TF systems, without the final clarification stage, in relation to the removal of organic matter. The experiments were carried out in two sets of UASB/TF systems operating without secondary clarifiers, as follows: (i) four shallow (2.50 m height) TFs, each one filled with a different packing material; and (ii) two deep (4.20 m height) TFs, one filled with polyethylene corrugated sheets and the other with mixed polyethylene and sponge sheets. For the conditions tested (different packing material in shallow and deep TF), the UASB/TF systems had consistently complied (90 to 100% of the results) with the Brazilian discharge standards regarding to BOD, COD, and TSS parameters. The average BOD, COD and TSS effluent concentrations stayed below 40 mg BOD L−1, 100 mg COD L−1 and 50 mg TSS L−1, respectively. UASB/TF systems can constitute an attractive alternative for domestic wastewater treatment in small communities in developing countries, especially considering its operational simplicity and very low running costs.

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