Dynamic testing of the twin circulating fluidized bed bioreactor (TCFBBR) for nutrient removal from municipal wastewater

Mehran Andalib, George Nakhla, Jesse Zhu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The performance of a lab-scale twin circulating fluidized bed bioreactor (TCFBBR) for biological nutrient removal from synthetic and real municipal wastewater was studied with lava rock, 850-1125μm in diameter, used as a biofilm carrier media. The work showed >90% COD, >85% nitrogen, and 20-55% phosphorus removal efficiencies at an synthetic influent (phase I) and real (phase II) municipal wastewater (MWW) flow rate of 260L/d, with corresponding organic loading rates (OLR) of 2.7and 4.3kg COD/(m3d) and nitrogen loading rates (NLRs) of 0.3 and 0.51kgN/(m3d). The overall hydraulic retention time (HRT) was 2.3h with empty bed contact times (EBCTs) of 0.22 and 0.71h in the anoxic and aerobic columns, respectively. The TCFBBR effluent was characterized by <1.0mg NH4-N/L, <5.1mg NO3-N/L, <8mg TN/L, and <11mg SBOD/L throughout the experiment. Due to a long sludge retention time (SRT) of 40 days, 31-32 days in the anoxic column and 6.8-7.6 days in the aerobic column, very low sludge yields of 0.093 and 0.101g VSS/g COD were observed. The sustainability of the system, in terms of nitrification-denitrification, tested at a hydraulic peaking factor of 4 for 3h, demonstrated the high efficiency of the TCFBBR during wet weather conditions. Nitrification was found to be very sensitive to the SCOD concentration, with effluent ammonia concentration increasing from 1.8 to 14mg/L in 10h concomitant with a rise in effluent SCOD from 18 to 350mg/L due to a carbon shock test.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-625
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilm
  • Biological nutrients removal (BNR)
  • Biomass yield
  • Fluidized bed bioreactors
  • Nitrification-denitrification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering (all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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