Combined system for biological removal of nitrogen and carbon from a fish cannery wastewater

A. Mosquera-Corral, J. L. Campos, M. Sánchez, R. Méndez, J. M. Lema

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19 Scopus citations


A combined system composed of three sequentially arranged reactors, anaerobic-anoxic-aerobic reactors, was used to treat the wastewater generated in the tuna cookers of a fish canning factory. These wastewaters are characterized by high chemical oxygen demand (COD) and nitrogen concentrations. The anaerobic process was performed in an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor operated in two steps. During Step I different influent COD concentrations were applied and organic loading rates (OLRs) up to 4 g COD/(L·d) were achieved. During Step II hydraulic retention time (HRT) was varied from 0.5 to 0.8 days while COD concentration in the influent was constant at 6 g COD/L. The OLRs treated were up to 15 g COD/(L·d). When HRTs longer than 0.8 days were used, COD removal percentages of 60% were obtained and these values decreased to 40% for a HRT of 0.5 days. The denitrification process carried out in an upflow anoxic filter was clearly influenced by the amount of carbon source supplied. When available carbon was present, the necessary COD/N ratio for complete denitrification was around 4 and denitrification percentages of 80% were obtained. The nitrification process was successful and was almost unaffected by the presence of organic carbon (0.2-0.8 g TOC/L), with ammonia removal percentages of 100%. Three recycling ratios (R/F) between the denitrification and nitrification reactors were applied at 1, 2, and 2.5. The overall balance of the combined system indicated that COD and N removal percentages of 90% and up to 60%, respectively, were achieved when the R/F ratio was between 2 and 2.5.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)826-833
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological treatment
  • Carbon
  • Industrial wastes
  • Nitrogen
  • Wastewater treatment


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