Performance of an up-flow anaerobic stage reactor (UASR) in the treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater containing macrolide antibiotics

Water Res. 2006 Feb;40(3):507-16. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2005.11.020. Epub 2006 Jan 4.


The performance of an up-flow anaerobic stage reactor (UASR) treating pharmaceutical wastewater containing macrolide antibiotics was investigated. Specifically, it was determined whether a UASR could be used as pre-treatment system at an existing pharmaceutical production plant to reduce the antibiotics in the trade effluent. Accordingly, a UASR was developed with an active reactor volume of 11 L being divided into four 2.75 L stages. Each stage of the reactor was an up-flow sludge blanket reactor and had a 3-phase separator baffle to retain biomass. The reactor was fed with real pharmaceutical wastewater containing Tylosin and Avilamycin antibiotics and operated with step-wise increases in the reactor organic loading rate (OLR) from 0.43 to 3.73 kg chemical oxygen demand (COD) m(-3)d(-1), and then reduced to 1.86, over 279 days. The process performance of the reactor was characterised in terms of its COD removal, Tylosin reduction, pH, VFA production, methane yield and sludge washout. At a total hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 4 d and OLR of 1.86 kg COD m(-3)d(-1), COD reduction was 70-75%, suggesting the biomass had acclimated to the antibiotics. Furthermore, an average of 95% Tylosin reduction was achieved in the UASR, indicating that this antibiotic could be degraded efficiently in the anaerobic reactor system. In addition, the influence of elevated Tylosin concentrations on the UASR process performance was studied using additions of Tylosin phosphate concentrate. Results showed similar efficiency for COD removal when Tylosin was present at concentrations ranging from 0 to 400 mgL(-1) (mean removal over this range was 93%), however, at Tylosin concentrations of 600 and 800 mgL(-1) there was a slight decline in treatment efficiency at 85% and 75% removal, respectively.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism*
  • Biomass
  • Bioreactors*
  • Drug Industry
  • Industrial Waste
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Tylosin / metabolism*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Industrial Waste
  • Oligosaccharides
  • avilamycin
  • Tylosin