SBRs are a variation of the activated-sludge process. They differ from activated-sludge plants because they combine all of the treatment steps and processes into a single basin, or tank, whereas conventional facilities rely on multiple basins. According to a 1999 U.S. EPA report, an SBR is no more than an activated-sludge plant that operates in time rather than space.
The operation of an SBR is based on a fill-and-draw principle, which consists of five steps—fill, react, settle, decant, and idle. These steps can be altered for different operational applications. Fill During the fill phase, the basin receives influent wastewater. The influent brings food to the microbes in the activated sludge, creating an environment for biochemical reactions to take place. Mixing and aeration can be varied during the fill phase to create the following three different scenarios:
Static Fill – Under a static-fill scenario, there is no mixing or aeration while the influent wastewater is entering the tank. Static fill is used during the initial start-upphase of a facility, at plants that do not need to nitrify or denitrify, and during lowflow periods to save power. Because the mixers and aerators remain off, this scenario has an energy-savings component. Mixed Fill – Under a mixed-fill scenario, mechanical mixers are active, but the aerators remain off. The mixing action produces a uniform blend of influent wastewater and biomass. Because there is no aeration, an anoxic condition is present, which promotes denitrification. Anaerobic conditions can also be achieved during the mixed-fill phase. Under anaerobic conditions the biomass undergoes a release of phosphorous. This release is reabsorbed by the biomass once aerobic conditions are reestablished. This phosphorous release will not happen with anoxic conditions.
Aerated Fill – Under an aerated-fill scenario, both the aerators and the mechanicalmixing unit are activated. The contents of the basin are aerated to convert the anoxic or anaerobic zone over to an aerobic zone. No adjustments to the aerated-fill cycle are needed to reduce organics and achieve nitrification. However, to achieve denitrification, it is necessary to switch the oxygen off to promote anoxic conditions for denitrification. By switching the oxygen on and off during this phase with the blowers, oxic and anoxic conditions are created, allowing for nitrification and denitrification. Dissolved oxygen (DO) should be monitored during this phase so it does not go over 0.2 mg/L. This ensures that an anoxic condition will occur during the idle phase.
React This phase allows for further reduction or “polishing” of wastewater parameters. During this phase, no wastewater enters the basin and the mechanical mixing and aeration units are on. Because there are no additional volume and organic loadings, the rate of organic removal increases dramatically. Most of the carbonaceous BOD removal occurs in the react phase. Further nitrification occurs by allowing the mixing and aeration to continue—the majority of denitrification takes place in the mixed-fill phase. The phosphorus released during mixed fill, plus some additional phosphorus, is taken up during the react phase.
Settle During this phase, activated sludge is allowed to settle under quiescent conditions—no flow enters the basin and no aeration and mixing takes place. The activated sludge tends to settle as a flocculent mass, forming a distinctive interface with the clear supernatant. The sludge mass is called the sludge blanket. This phase is a critical part of the cycle, because if the solids do not settle rapidly, some sludge can be drawn off during the subsequent decant phase and thereby degrade effluent quality.
Decant During this phase, a decanter is used to remove the clear supernatant effluent. Once the settle phase is complete, a signal is sent to the decanter to initiate the opening of an effluent-discharge valve. There are floating and fixed-arm decanters. Floating decanters maintain the inlet orifice slightly below the water surface to minimize the removal of solids in the effluent removed during the decant phase. Floating decanters offer the operator flexibility to vary fill and draw volumes. Fixed-arm decanters are less expensive and can be designed to allow the operator to lower or raise the level of the decanter. It is optimal that the decanted volume is the same as the volume that enters the basin during the fill phase. It is also important that no surface foam or scum is decanted. The vertical distance from the decanter to the bottom of the tank should be maximized to avoid disturbing the settled biomass.
Idle This step occurs between the decant and the fill phases. The time varies, based on the influent flow rate and the operating strategy. During this phase, a small amount of activated sludge at the bottom of the SBR basin is pumped out—a process called wasting.
The procedure WWTP-SBR is freely available including Mathematical Model and Technical Specification on the algorithms used in calculation:
- Software License (. Xls)
- User Manual (. Pdf) – Technical Specification (. Pdf)
- 12 months / Technical Assistance
SBR Manual (Guidelines – Operational Suggestions – TroubleShooting) To purchase or for more info: