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82398968 Sequencing Batch Reactor

82398968 Sequencing Batch Reactor

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United StatesEnvironmental Protection AgencyOffice of Water Washington, D.C.EPA 832-F-99-073September 1999
WastewaterTechnology Fact Sheet
Sequencing Batch Reactors
The sequencing batch reactor (SBR) is a fill-and-draw activated sludge system for wastewatertreatment. In this system, wastewater is added to asingle “batch” reactor, treated to removeundesirable components, and then discharged.Equalization, aeration, and clarification can all beachieved using a single batch reactor. To optimizethe performance of the system, two or more batchreactors are used in a predetermined sequence of operations. SBR systems have been successfullyused to treat both municipal and industrialwastewater. They are uniquely suited forwastewater treatment applications characterized bylow or intermittent flow conditions.Fill-and-draw batch processes similar to the SBRare not a recent development as commonly thought.Between 1914 and 1920, several full-scale fill-and-draw systems were in operation. Interest in SBRswas revived in the late 1950s and early 1960s, withthe development of new equipment and technology.Improvements in aeration devices and controls haveallowed SBRs to successfully compete withconventional activated sludge systems.The unit processes of the SBR and conventionalactivated sludge systems are the same. A 1983 U.S.EPA report, summarized this by stating that “theSBR is no more than an activated sludge systemwhich operates in time rather than in space.” Thedifference between the two technologies is that theSBR performs equalization, biological treatment,and secondary clarification in a single tank using atimed control sequence. This type of reactor does,in some cases, also perform primary clarification. Ina conventional activated sludge system, these unitprocesses would be accomplished by using separatetanks.A modified version of the SBR is the IntermittentCycle Extended Aeration System (ICEAS). In theICEAS system, influent wastewater flows into thereactor on a continuous basis. As such, this is nota true batch reactor, as is the conventional SBR. Abaffle wall may be used in the ICEAS to buffer thiscontinuous inflow. The design configurations of theICEAS and the SBR are otherwise very similar.
Description of a Wastewater Treatment PlantUsing an SBR
A typical process flow schematic for a municipalwastewater treatment plant using an SBR is shownin Figure 1. Influent wastewater generally passesthrough screens and grit removal prior to the SBR.The wastewater then enters a partially filled reactor,containing biomass, which is acclimated to thewastewater constituents during preceding cycles.Once the reactor is full, it behaves like aconventional activated sludge system, but without acontinuous influent or effluent flow. The aerationand mixing is discontinued after the biologicalreactions are complete, the biomass settles, and thetreated supernatant is removed. Excess biomass iswasted at any time during the cycle. Frequentwasting results in holding the mass ratio of influentsubstrate to biomass nearly constant from cycle tocycle. Continuous flow systems hold the mass ratioof influent substrate to biomass constant byadjusting return activated sludge flowratescontinually as influent flowrates, characteristics, andsettling tank underflow concentrations vary. Afterthe SBR, the “batch” of wastewater may flow to anequalization basin where the wastewater flowrate to
additional unit processed can be is controlled at adetermined rate. In some cases the wastewater isfiltered to remove additional solids and thendisinfected.As illustrated in Figure 1, the solids handling systemmay consist of a thickener and an aerobic digester.With SBRs there is no need for return activatedsludge (RAS) pumps and primary sludge (PS)pumps like those associated with conventionalactivated sludge systems. With the SBR, there istypically only one sludge to handle. The need forgravity thickeners prior to digestion is determinedon a case by case basis depending on thecharacteristics of the sludge.An SBR serves as an equalization basin when thevessel is filling with wastewater, enabling the systemto tolerate peak flows or peak loads in the influentand to equalize them in the batch reactor. In manyconventional activated sludge systems, separateequalization is needed to protects the biologicalsystem from peak flows, which may wash out thebiomass, or peak loads, which may upset thetreatment process.It should also be noted that primary clarifiers aretypically not required for municipal wastewaterapplications prior to an SBR. In most conventionalactivated sludge wastewater treatment plants,primary clarifiers are used prior to the biologicalsystem. However, primary clarifiers may berecommended by the SBR manufacturer if the totalsuspended solids (TSS) or biochemical oxygendemand (BOD) are greater than 400 to 500 mg/L.Historic data should be evaluated and the SBRmanufacturer consulted to determine whetherprimary clarifiers or equalization are recommendedprior to an SBR for municipal and industrialapplications.Equalization may be required after the SBR,depending on the downstream process. If equalization is
used prior to filtration, the filtersneed to be sized in order to receive the batch of wastewater from the SBR, resulting in a largesurface area required for filtration. Sizing filters toaccept these “batch” flows is usually not feasible,which is why equalization is used between an SBRand downstream filtration. Separate equalizationfollowing the biological system is generally notrequired for most conventional activated sludgesystems, because the flow is on a continuous andmore constant basis.
SBRs are typically used at flowrates of 5 MGD orless. The more sophisticated operation required atlarger SBR plants tends to discourage the use of these plants for large flowrates.As these systems have a relatively small footprint,they are useful for areas where the available land islimited. In addition, cycles within the system can beeasily modified for nutrient removal in the future, if it becomes necessary. This makes SBRs extremelyflexible to adapt to regulatory changes for effluentparameters such as nutrient removal. SBRs are alsovery cost effective if treatment beyond biologicaltreatment is required, such as filtration.
Some advantages and disadvantages of SBRs arelisted below:
Source: Parsons Engineering Science, 1999.
Equalization, primary clarification (in mostcases), biological treatment, and secondaryclarification can be achieved in a single reactorvessel.
Operating flexibility and control.
Minimal footprint.
Potential capital cost savings by eliminatingclarifiers and other equipment.
A higher level of sophistication is required(compared to conventional systems), especiallyfor larger systems, of timing units and controls.
Higher level of maintenance (compared toconventional systems) associated with moresophisticated controls, automated switches, andautomated valves.
Potential of discharging floating or settled sludgeduring the DRAW or decant phase with someSBR configurations.
Potential plugging of aeration devices duringselected operating cycles, depending on theaeration system used by the manufacturer.
Potential requirement for equalization after theSBR, depending on the downstream processes.
For any wastewater treatment plant design, the firststep is to determine the anticipated influentcharacteristics of the wastewater and the effluentrequirements for the proposed system. Theseinfluent parameters typically include design flow,maximum daily flow BOD
, TSS, pH, alkalinity,wastewater temperature, total Kjeldahl nitrogen(TKN), ammonia-nitrogen (NH
-N), and totalphosphorus (TP). For industrial and domesticwastewater, other site specific parameters may alsobe required.The state regulatory agency should be contacted todetermine the effluent requirements of the proposedplant. These effluent discharge parameters will bedictated by the state in the National PollutantDischarge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.The parameters typically permitted for municipalsystems are flowrate, BOD
, TSS, and FecalColiform. In addition, many states are movingtoward requiring nutrient removal. Therefore, totalnitrogen (TN), TKN, NH
-N, or TP may also berequired. It is imperative to establish effluentrequirements because they will impact the operatingsequence of the SBR. For example, if there is anutrient requirement and NH
-N or TKN isrequired, then nitrification will be necessary. If there is a TN limit, then nitrification anddenitrification will be necessary.Once the influent and effluent characteristics of thesystem are determined, the engineer will typicallyconsult SBR manufacturers for a recommendeddesign. Based on these parameters, and other sitespecific parameters such as temperature, key designparameters are selected for the system. An exampleof these parameters for a wastewater system loadingis listed in Table 1.
Food to Mass (F:M)0.15 - 0.4/day0.15 -0.6/dayTreatment CycleDuration4.0 hours4.0 - 24hoursTypically Low Water Level Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids2,000-2,500mg/L2,000 - 4,000mg/LHydraulic RetentionTime6 - 14 hoursvariesSource: AquaSBR Design Manual, 1995.
Once the key design parameters are determined, thenumber of cycles per day, number of basins, decantvolume, reactor size, and detention times can becalculated. Additionally, the aeration equipment,decanter, and associated piping can then be sized.

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