UASBs present several advantages compared to conventional wastewater treatment processes, including relatively low construction cost facilities, low excess sludge production, plain operation and maintenance, energy generation in the form of biogas, robustness in terms of COD removal efficiency, pH stability, and recovery time. Although anaerobic treatment is possible at every temperature, colder climates lead to lower process performance and biogas production. These factors can be critical in determining the applicability and sustainability of this technology for the treatment of urban wastewater at low operating temperature. The purpose of this study is the performance evaluation of a pilot-scale (2.75 m3
) UASB reactor for treatment of urban wastewater at sub-mesophilic temperature (25 °C), below the optimal range for the process, as related to biogas production and organic matter removal. The results show that, despite lower methane production and COD removal efficiency compared to operation under ideal conditions, a UASB can still achieve satisfactory performance, and although not sufficient to grant effluent discharge requirements, it may be used as a pretreatment step for carbon removal with some degree of energy recovery. Options for UASB pretreatment applications in municipal WWTPs are discussed.
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