The main processes involved in enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) under anaerobic and subsequently aerobic conditions are widely described in the literature. Polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO) are the organisms responsible for this process. However, the mechanisms of PAO are not fully established yet under conditions that differ from the classical anaerobic/aerobic conditions. In this work, we made a comparison between the behavior of PAO under classical EBPR conditions and its behavior when consuming substrate under only aerobic conditions. In addition, oxygen uptake rate (OUR) was measured in the set of experiments under aerobic conditions to improve the characterization of the process. A kinetic and stoichiometric model based on Activated Sludge Model No.2 (ASM2) and including glycogen economy (AnOx model), calibrated for classical anaerobic/aerobic conditions, was not able to describe the experimental data since it underestimated the acetate consumption, the PHB storage, and the OUR. Two different hypotheses for describing the experimental measurements were proposed and modeled. Both hypotheses considered that PAO, under aerobic conditions, uptake acetate coupled to PHB storage, glycogen degradation, and phosphorus release as in anaerobic conditions. Moreover, the first hypothesis (PAO-hypothesis) considered that PAO were able to store acetate as PHB linked to oxygen consumption and the second one (OHO hypothesis) considered that this storage was due to ordinary heterotrophic organisms (OHO). Both hypotheses were evaluated by simulation extending the AnOx model with additional equations. The main differences observed were the predictions for PHB degradation during the famine phase and the OUR profile during both feast and famine phases. The OHO hypothesis described the experimental profiles more accurately than the PAO hypothesis. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)
- Oxygen uptake rate (OUR)
- Polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO)