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Horizontal-Flow Biofilm Reactors for the Removal of Carbon and Nitrogen from Domestic-Strength Wastewaters

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This study investigated the performance of a horizontal-flow biofilm reactor in treating domestic-strength synthetic wastewater (SWW) under three hydraulic and chemical oxygen demand (COD) loading rates (phases 1 to 3) ranging from 152 L/m 2 · d and 58.9 g COD/m 2 · d to 497 L/m 2 · d and 192.7 g COD/m 2 · d, respectively; the rates were based on the top surface plan area (TSPA) of the reactor. The reactor comprised a stack of 30 horizontal polystyrene sheets. The SWW, intermittently dosed onto the unit, flowed over and back along sequential sheets in the stack before exiting at the bottom of the unit.

Maximum average removals of >98% biochemical oxygen demand and 96.2% total ammonium-nitrogen (NH 4-N) were observed. The TSPA COD and NH 4-N removal rates were high for all phases. The unit provides a high-performance, economic, low-maintenance, and flexible alternative for removing carbon and ammonium from low-flow point sources.

Keywords: biofilm reactor; biofilm technology; domestic wastewater remediation; nitrification; organic carbon removal

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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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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