The enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) process is based on enriching the sludge with polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO) which are scarce in conventional non-EBPR wastewater treatment plant sludge. Hence, the start-up of EBPR systems (i.e. enriching the sludge with PAO) can be very slow and complex. A simulation study of a possible improvement of the start-up of an EBPR system in a sequencing batch reactor is presented in this work. The improvement is based on reducing the length of the aerobic phase so that it coincides with the depletion of orthophosphate from the medium. This improvement, though verified by simulation to be very successful, requires a good on-line orthophosphate sensor. To avoid this technical limitation, a link between oxygen uptake rate (OUR) measurements and orthophosphate presence is proposed. This link allows the control of the aerobic phase length with OUR as a measured variable and, consequently, a considerable improvement with respect to the conventional fixed aerobic phase length operation. An improvement of 95% in the ratio of PAO to heterotrophs and an increase of 30% in the final amount of PAO in sludge is achieved with this control strategy. The kinetic mod for simulations was a modification of the Activated Sludge Model 2d.

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