Achieving simultaneous biological COD and phosphorus removal in a continuous anaerobic/aerobic A-stage system

Congcong Zhang, Albert Guisasola, Juan Antonio Baeza*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Recovering energy from wastewater in addition to its treatment is a hot trend in the new concept of water resource recovery facility (WRRF). High-rate systems operating at low solid retention time (SRT) have been proposed to meet this challenge. In this paper, the integration of Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal (EBPR) in an anaerobic/aerobic continuous high-rate system (A-stage EBPR) was evaluated. Successful P and COD removal were obtained operating at SRT 6, 5 and 4 days treating real wastewater, while a further decrease to 3 days led to biomass washout. The best steady state operational conditions were obtained at SRT = 4d, with high removal percentage of P (94.5%) and COD (96.3%), and without detecting nitrification. COD mineralization could be reduced to 30%, while 64 % of the entering carbon could be diverted as biomass to energy recovery. Regarding nitrogen, about 69±1% of the influent N was left as ammonium in the effluent, with 30% used for biomass growth. The aerobic reactor could be operated at low dissolved oxygen (DO) (0.5 mg/L), which is beneficial to decrease energy requirements. Biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests showed better productivity for the anaerobic sludge than the aerobic sludge, with an optimal BMP of 296±2 mL CH4/gVSS. FISH analysis at SRT = 4d revealed a high abundance of Accumulibacter (33±13%) and lower proportion of GAO: Competibacter (3.0±0.3%), Defluviicoccus I (0.6±0.1%) and Defluviicoccus II (4.3±1.1%).

Original languageEnglish
Article number116703
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • A-stage
  • Biochemical methane potential (BMP)
  • Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)
  • Solids retention time (SRT)
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Sewage
  • Bioreactors
  • Phosphorus
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Waste Water
  • Nitrogen


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