Biokinetic modeling and scale-up considerations for rotating biological contactors

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Available growth kinetic models and a combined growth kinetic and mass transport model were applied to describe the performance of bench-scale rotating biological contactors (RBCs) in treating low-BOD, high-ammonia landfill leachate. The growth kinetic models could describe the observed organic carbon and ammonia removals individually, but as currently formulated they are not capable of describing the simultaneous removal of multiple substrates. Moreover, these models assume that substrate removal is not oxygen limited, an assumption that renders them of little use for prediction of substrate removal under high loading conditions where oxygen deficiency may occur. Such conditions occurred in the first stages of the bench-scale RBC units as has been observed at full-scale in various wastewater treatment applications. To examine the effect of oxygen transfer on the simultaneous removal of organic carbon and ammonia, a combined growth kinetic and mass transport model, RBC Sector, was developed. RBC Sector described successfully the observed substrate removal rates and was useful in identifying the tank dissolved oxygen concentration (1.8 mg/L) at which RBC performance started to decline as a result of oxygen limitation. Because RBC Sector can predict the simultaneous removal of multiple substrates under oxygen-limiting conditions, it is potentially useful as a scale-up tool. Investigation of a key scale-up issue, namely the radial variation of biomass thickness and density, would improve the utility of the model for scale-up.

Keywords: kinetics; leachate; modeling; nitrification; rotating biological contactors; scale-up; treatment

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 1992

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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