Maintenance of phosphorus removal in an EBPR system under permanent aerobic conditions using propionate

M. Vargas, C. Casas, J. A. Baeza

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)288-296
    JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2009


    • Aerobic processes
    • Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)
    • Phosphorus accumulating organisms (PAO)
    • Propionic acid
    • Wastewater treatment


    Dive into the research topics of 'Maintenance of phosphorus removal in an EBPR system under permanent aerobic conditions using propionate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this