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Open Access Simultaneous Biological Nutrient Removal: A State-of-the-Art Review

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Simultaneous biological nutrient removal (SBNR) is the occurrence of biological nutrient removal (BNR) in systems that do not possess defined anaerobic and/or anoxic zones. A review of the relevant literature demonstrates that two mechanisms are primarily responsible for SBNR: (1) the bioreactor macro-environment and (2) the floc micro-environment. Complex hydraulic flow patterns exist in full-scale bioreactors that can result in the cycling of mixed liquor through the different environments needed for BNR. Diffusion resistance further allows oxygen-sufficient and oxygen-deficient zones to develop in activated sludge flocs if the external dissolved oxygen concentration is properly controlled. The diffusion of substrates between these zones allows BNR to occur. Long-term acclimation to the unique environmental conditions occurring in these systems results in the selection of microorganisms well adapted to the low dissolved oxygen concentrations occurring in them. The experience base for the design and operation of SBNR systems is expanding, thereby allowing their more widespread application, especially coupled with conventional mathematical modeling approaches. Computational fluid dynamics is an evolving tool to assist with the design and optimization of SBNR.

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Keywords: bioreactor macro-environment; floc micro-environment; nitrogen; phosphorus; simultaneous biological nutrient removal

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: CH2M HILL, 9191 South Jamaica Street, Englewood, CO 80112, USA

Publication date: 2014-03-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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