Moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBRs) were placed at two wastewater treatment plants, where they were constantly fed with effluent and intermittently fed with primary wastewater. Each reactor was subjected to different feast/famine periods and flow rates of primary wastewater, thus the different organic and nutrient loads (chemical oxygen demand(COD), ammonium(NH4-N)) resulted in different feast-famine conditions applied to the biomass. In batch experiments, this study investigated the effects of various feast-famine conditions on the biodegradation of micropollutants by MBBRs applied as an effluent polishing step. Rate constants of micropollutant removals were found to be positively correlated to the load of the total COD and NH4-N, indicating that higher organic loads were favourable for the growth of micropollutant degraders in these MBBRs. Rate constant of atenolol was five times higher when the biomass was fed with the highest COD and NH4-N load than it was fed with the lowest COD and NH4-N load. For diclofenac, mycophenolic acid and iohexol, their maximum rate constants were obtained with feeding of COD and NH4-N of approximately 570 mgCOD/d and 40∼60 mgNH4-N/d respectively. This also supports the concept that co-metabolism (rather competition inhibition or catabolic repression) plays an important role in micropollutants biodegradation in wastewater.
- Suspended biofilm