Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR)

Sequencing batch reactor (SBR) is a fill-and-draw activated sludge treatment system. SBR is compact and time oriented system, and all the processes are carried out sequentially in the same tank. The tanks may be an earthen or oxidation ditch, a rectangular basin, or any other concrete/ metal type structure. Each tank in the SBR system is filled during a discrete period of time and then operated as a batch reactor.

An SBR system may be designed as consisting of a single or multiple reactor tanks operating in parallel. Each operating cycle of a SBR reactor comprises five distinctive phases, referred to as: FILL, REACT, SETTLE, DRAW and IDLE phases. Overall control of the system is accomplished with level sensors and a timing device or microprocessor.

A detailed discussion of each of the phases of the SBR is provided in the following sections:-


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.


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.


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.


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.


This step occurs between 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.