Biofilm systems utilizing free-floating carriers are by now an established wastewater treatment process. However, such systems lack operational tools to be used for process monitoring and analysis (equivalent to MLSS or SRT in activated sludge systems). A simple respirometric method
is used as an operational tool which allows close monitoring of MBBR and IFAS systems, allowing operators to have better understanding of varying conditions within the biofilm process. In addition, Respirometry can be used to assess important issues such as effective surface area of different
types of media, and distribution of different biofilm populations (autotrophic and heterotrophic) under different process conditions. Respirometric data from two full scale plants – one an MBBR, and the other an IFAS system — as well as data from two MBBR pilot plants is presented,
along with operational and process data showing the use of Respirometry in identifying toxic events, changes in ammonia removal, shifts in population distribution during changes of operational modes, and comparative surface area testing of different carrier media.
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