Two different types of biomass, capable for Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal (EBPR), a UCT (University of Cape Town) type and a sludge enriched with DPAOs (Denitrifying Phosphorus Accumulating Organisms) were tested in batch reactors under specific operational and environmental conditions, in order to achieve a direct comparison of their phosphorus removal capability. Three types of batch reactors were operated, Anaerobic/Oxic (AO), Anaerobic/Anoxic (A2) and Anaerobic/Anoxic/Oxic (A2O), under controlled temperature and pH conditions. Maximum anaerobic specific phosphate release, substrate utilization, as well as denitrification and phosphate uptake rates under aerobic and anoxic conditions were determined and compared for the two different microbial populations. Experimental results indicated no significant difference between the anoxic and the aerobic phosphorus (P) uptake rates, respectively for DPAO and UCT sludge. The UCT sludge was also found to achieve anoxic P uptake, however to much less extend compared to the DPAO sludge. It has also been proved that anoxic P uptake seems to negatively affect the total P removal efficiency of this type of sludge, even under following aerobic conditions. Based on these findings, denitrifying phosphorus removal systems are proved comparable to conventional EBPR configurations (UCT), concerning phosphorus removal efficiency, while their operation is accompanied by potential advantages.

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