Start up of a pilot scale aerobic granular reactor for organic matter and nitrogen removal

Mariele Katherine Jungles, Mónica Figueroa, Nicolás Morales, Ángeles Val del Río, Rejane Helena Ribeiro da Costa, Jose Luis Campos, Anuska Mosquera-Corral, Ramón Méndez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Aerobic granulation is a promising technology for the removal of nutrients in wastewater. Since research to date is mainly focused at laboratory scale, a pilot-scale sequencing batch reactor (100 L) was operated to obtain granular sludge in aerobic conditions grown on acetate as organic carbon substrate. Selective pressure created by means of decreasing settling time and increasing organic loading rate (OLR) enhanced the formation of aerobic granular sludge. Granules appeared after 6 days and reached an average diameter around 3.5 mm. The settling velocity value should be higher than 11 m h-1 in order to remove flocculent biomass. The reactor treated OLRs varying between 2.5 and 6.0 g COD L-1 d-1 reaching removal efficiencies around 96%, which demonstrates the high activity and the ability of the system to withstand high OLR. Nevertheless, a rapid increase in the OLR produced a loss of biomass in the reactor due to breakage of the granules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-768
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic granular sludge
  • Granulation
  • Organic loading rate
  • Pilot reactor


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