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Effect of Calcium on Moving-Bed Biofilm Reactor Biofilms

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Abstract:

The effect of calcium concentration on the biofilm structure, microbiology, and treatment performance was evaluated in a moving-bed biofilm reactor. Three experiments were conducted in replicate laboratory-scale reactors to determine if wastewater calcium is an important variable for the design and optimization of these reactors. Biofilm structural properties, such as thickness, oxygen microprofiles, and the composition of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) were affected by increasing calcium concentrations. Above a threshold concentration of calcium between 1 and 50 mg/L, biofilms became thicker and denser, with a shift toward increasingly proteinaceous EPS at higher calcium concentrations up to 200 mgCa2+/L. At 300 mgCa2+/L, biofilms were found to become primarily composed of inorganic calcium precipitates. Microbiology was assessed through microscopy, denaturing grade gel electrophoresis, and enumeration of higher organisms. Higher calcium concentrations were found to change the bacterial community and promote the abundant growth of filamentous organisms and various protazoa and metazoan populations. The chemical oxygen demand removal efficiency was improved for reactors at calcium concentrations of 50 mg/L and above. Reactor effluents for the lowest calcium concentration (1 mgCa2+/L) were found to be turbid (>50 NTU), as a result of the detachment of small and poorly settling planktonic biomass, whereas higher concentrations promoted settling of the suspended phase. In general, calcium was found to be an important variable causing significant changes in biofilm structure and reactor function.

Keywords: calcium; detachment; divalent cation; extracellular polymeric substances; microelectrode; moving-bed biofilm

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/106143010X12780288628255

Affiliations: Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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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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