Membrane-aerated biofilms with oxygen and nutrients diffusing from the opposite sides possess distinct properties, including the ability to couple aerobic and anaerobic processes. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of oxygen partial pressure and chemical oxygen demand
(COD) loading on biofilm properties. Two laboratory-scale membrane-aerated bioreactors were operated for a total of 283 days, with one reactor operated at 42, 60, and 89 kPa (0.41, 0.59, and 0.88 atm) oxygen, and the other reactor at 25 kPa (0.25 atm) oxygen (air control). The biofilm detached
at the oxygen partial pressures of 60 and 89 kPa (0.59 and 0.88 atm) at a COD loading of 11.3 kg COD/1000 m 2/d, but was sustained at the oxygen partial pressures of 25 and 42 kPa (0.25 and 0.41 atm), with a porous structure at the membrane interface at the COD loading of 11.3 kg
COD/1000 m 2/d. Biofilm formation was improved at a higher COD loading. It is proposed that the loss of extracellular polymeric substances at the biofilm bottom is the cause for the biofilm detachment subjected to a higher oxygen partial pressure.
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