A set of two reactors, an Anaerobic Filter (AF) of 12 m3 and a Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) of 28 m3, coupled in series, were used to treat the wastewaters from an industrial milk analysis laboratory. The characteristics of these effluents are similar to those discharged by dairy factories (average values around 10 kg COD/m3 and 0.20 kg N/m3). These wastewaters were produced as the result of the final mixture of the analysed milk samples, with a very high organic load, and other low strength effluents, such as sewage and other minor liquid streams generated in the laboratory. Two microbial growth inhibitors, sodium azide and chloramphenicol, were systematically added to the milk before its analysis. Preliminary results have shown that these compounds did apparently not inhibit the methanogenic activity of the anaerobic sludge. Toxicity determination, using the Microtox method, resulted in EC50 values for the wastewaters of 20 g/L, whereas the final effluent from the SBR was non toxic. A maximum OLR of 8 kg COD/m3·d was treated in the AF, being the maximum OLR in the SBR around 1.5-2 kg COD/m3·d. During operation, the soluble COD of the final effluent from the SBR was usually below 200 mg/L, and total nitrogen (mainly nitrate) below 10 mg N/L. Assimilation of nitrogen for growth and nitrification-denitrification were the main mechanisms of nitrogen removal from the wastewater. In the anaerobic system between 50-85% of the organic matter was converted into methane, being the remaining COD and most of the nitrogen removed in the suspended culture system. Overall COD removal in the treatment system was 98% and the nitrogen removal up to 99%. The combination of the AF and the SBR was advantageous resulting in a lower energy consumption and sludge generation in the treatment system.

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