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Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor Technology: Process Applications, Design, and Performance

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The moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) can operate as a 2- (anoxic) or 3-(aerobic) phase system with buoyant free-moving plastic biofilm carriers. These systems can be used for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, aquaculture, potable water denitrification, and, in roughing, secondary, tertiary, and sidestream applications. The system includes a submerged biofilm reactor and liquid‐solids separation unit. The MBBR process benefits include the following: (1) capacity to meet treatment objectives similar to activated sludge systems with respect to carbon-oxidation and nitrogen removal, but requires a smaller tank volume than a clarifier-coupled activated sludge system; (2) biomass retention is clarifier-independent and solids loading to the liquid‐solids separation unit is reduced significantly when compared with activated sludge systems; (3) the MBBR is a continuous-flow process that does not require a special operational cycle for biofilm thickness, LF , control (e.g., biologically active filter backwashing); and (4) liquid‐solids separation can be achieved with a variety of processes, including conventional and compact high-rate processes. Information related to system design is fragmented and poorly documented. This paper seeks to address this issue by summarizing state-of-the art MBBR design procedures and providing the reader with an overview of some commercially available systems and their components.

Keywords: Anammox; biofilm; carbon oxidation; denitrification; moving bed biofilm reactor; nitrification; partial nitritation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 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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