Comparative study between a hybrid system and a biofilm system for the treatment of ammonia and organic matter in wastewaters

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The efficiency of two similar gas-lift bioreactors, a biofilm reactor and a hybrid circulating floating bed reactor (CFBR), were studied and compared. In the biofilm CFBR the biomass grew preferably adhered on a plastic granular support, whereas in the hybrid CFBR both suspended biomass and biofilms were allowed to grow in the reactor. CODN H4+ ratio (COD=chemical oxygen demand) was manipulated between 0.0 and 8.0 gg, maintaining the ammonia influent concentration around 50 mg N-N H4+ L, the ammonia loading rate at 0.9 kg N-N H4+ m3 day and the hydraulic retention time at 1.36 h. At low CODN H4+ ratio (0 and 0.5 gg) both systems behaved similarly, achieving ammonia removal percentages higher than 95%. In the biofilm CFBR a reduction of the nitrification percentage from 95 to 20% was observed when a CODN-N H4+ ratio up to 8 gg was applied in the influent. However, at the same operational conditions, the nitrification process in the hybrid CFBR was slightly affected. In the hybrid-CFBR reactor heterotrophs growing in suspension consumed the COD source faster than those growing in biofilms as was monitored. The growth of heterotrophic microorganism in suspension had a beneficial effect for the nitrifying population growing in the biofilm of the hybrid CFBR. Nitrifying activity of the biofilm was not limited by the presence of heterotrophs consuming dissolved oxygen, displacing the nitrifying bacteria or creating mass transfer resistance as was observed in the biofilm CFBR. © 2009 ASCE.

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Journal of Environmental Engineering