Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is an efficient and sustainable technology to remove phosphorus from wastewater preventing eutrophication in natural waters. It is widely accepted that EBPR requires an optimal anaerobic hydraulic retention time to obtain stable P-removal from wastewater. Thus, it is suggested that deterioration of the EBPR efficiency regularly observed in full-scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is normally caused by an excessive aeration of activated sludge that increments the amount of oxygen recycled to the anaerobic reactor and consequently, the anaerobic conditions are not totally preserved. Furthermore, it has been reported a progressive decrease in P-removal capacity in an EBPR lab-scale system enriched with acetate as the sole carbon source under permanent aerobic conditions. Hence, to evaluate the stability of P-removal with a different carbon source, an EBPR-SBR was operated with propionate under permanent aerobic conditions. As a result, net P-removal was successfully accomplished in the SBR without any anaerobic phase during 46 days of aerobic operation. Moreover, the system was shifted after this period to the standard anaerobic-aerobic conditions and reliable P-removal was maintained. FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridisation) analysis showed a significant presence of Accumulibacter (70, 50 and 72%, in different periods) and the absence of Competibacter. The results indicate that using propionate as carbon source it is possible to maintain in a long term an enriched culture of phosphorus accumulating organisms (PAO) able to remove phosphorus under permanent aerobic conditions. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Aerobic processes
- Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)
- Phosphorus accumulating organisms (PAO)
- Propionic acid
- Wastewater treatment