A horizontal flow biofilm reactor (HFBR) designed for the treatment of synthetic wastewater (SWW) was studied to examine the spatial distribution and dynamics of nitrogen transformation processes. Detailed analyses of bulk water and biomass samples, giving substrate and proportions of ammonia oxidising bacteria (AOB) and nitrite oxidising bacteria (NOB) gradients in the HFBR, were carried out using chemical analyses, sensor rate measurements and molecular techniques. Based on these results, proposals for the design of HFBR systems are presented.
The HFBR comprised a stack of 60 polystyrene sheets with 10-mm deep frustums. SWW was intermittently dosed at two points, Sheets 1 and 38, in a 2 to 1 volume ratio respectively. Removals of 85.7% COD, 97.4% 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD(5)) and 61.7% TN were recorded during the study.
In the nitrification zones of the HFBR, which were separated by a step-feed zone, little variation in nitrification activity was found, despite decreasing in situ ammonia concentrations. The results further indicate significant simultaneous nitrification and denitrification (SND) activity in the nitrifying zones of the HFBR. Sensor measurements showed a linear increase in potential nitrification rates at temperatures between 7 and 16 degrees C, and similar rates of nitrification were measured at concentrations between 1 and 20 mg NH(4)-N/l. These results can be used to optimise HFBR reactor design. The HFBR technology could provide an alternative, low maintenance, economically efficient system for carbon and nitrogen removal for low flow wastewater discharges. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.