Aerobic granulation seems to be an a attractive process for COD removal from industrial wastewater, characterised by a high content of soluble organic compounds. In order to evaluate the practical aspects of the process, comparative experimental tests are performed on synthetic and on industrial wastewater, originating from pharmaceutical industry. Two pilot plants are operated as sequencing batch bubble columns. Focus was put on the feasibility of the process for high COD removal and on its operational procedure. For both wastewaters, a rapid formation of aerobic granules is observed along with a high COD removal rate. Granule characteristics are quite similar with respect to the two types of wastewater. It seems that filamentous bacteria are part of the granule structure and that phosphorus precipitation can play an important role in granule formation. For both wastewaters similar removal performances for dissolved biodegradable COD are observed (> 95%). However, a relatively high concentration of suspended solids in the outlet deteriorates the performance with regard to total COD removal. Biomass detachment seems to play a non-negligible role in the current set-up. After a stable operational phase the variation of the pharmaceutical wastewater caused a destabilisation and loss of the granules, despite the control for balanced nutrient supply. The first results with real industrial wastewater demonstrate the feasibility of this innovative process. However, special attention has to be paid to the critical aspects such as granule stability as well as the economic competitiveness, which both will need further investigation and evaluation.

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