On-line control of the biological treatment process is an innovative tool to cope with variable concentrations of chemical oxygen demand and nutrients in industrial wastewater. In the present study we implemented a simple dynamic control strategy for nutrient-removal in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) treating variable tank truck cleaning wastewater. The control system was based on derived signals from two low-cost and robust sensors that are very common in activated sludge plants, i.e. oxidation reduction potential (ORP) and dissolved oxygen. The amount of wastewater fed during anoxic filling phases, and the number of filling phases in the SBR cycle, were determined by the appearance of the ‘nitrate knee’ in the profile of the ORP. The phase length of the subsequent aerobic phases was controlled by the oxygen uptake rate measured online in the reactor. As a result, the sludge loading rate (F/M ratio), the volume exchange rate and the SBR cycle length adapted dynamically to the activity of the activated sludge and the actual characteristics of the wastewater, without affecting the final effluent quality.

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