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Course material week 10

Biological Process
Environmental Engineering
Institut Teknologi Bandung

 Introduction
 Biofilm
 Physical and Chemical Properties
 Kinetics of Biofilm Systems
 Biological Biofilm Systems
 Trickling Filter
 Fludized Bed
 Packed Bed
 Used for removal of organic pollutants from
 Biological treatment is popular due to:
 low cost
 effective in removal of a wide range of organic
 effective in removal of colloidal organics
 can remove toxic non-organic pollutants such as
heavy metals
 Aerobic:
Organic matter + O2  CO2 + H2O + cell + energy

 Anaerobic:
N 1P
Organic matter  intr. + CO2 + H2O + cell + energy

N 1P
intermediates  + CH4 + CO2 + energy
 Acclimation period is usually required
 Sensitivity of the microorganisms to shock
 Processesmay produce by-products that are
more toxic than the initial substance
 Certainindustrial wastewater required
 Temperature should not exceed 110°F
“A gelatinous layer consisting of cells immobilized in
an organic polymer matrix of microbial origin”

Physical Characteristics
• Thickness ranges from few
microns to over 1000 microns
• Surface is irregular “rough”
• Specially heterogeneous
• Consists of two compartments:
• Base film
• Surface film
Chemical Properties
 The Extra-Cellular Polymers (EPS) give the biofilm its chemical
 EPS compounds are dominated by hydroxyl and carboxylic groups (
OH-, COO- )
 The biofilm has a net anionic charge which influence transport of

Kinetics of Biofilm Systems

Physical mass transport:
The rate of mass transport of substrate from the bulk liquid across
a unit area of the stagnant liquid layer to the biofilm surface is
called the flux.
Ns = KL (Sb - Ss)
Ns = flux in units of mass per unit area per unit time
KL = mass transfer coefficient, length per time
Sb = substrate concentration in the bulk liquid
Ss = substrate concentration at the biofilm surface
Several correlations have been suggested describing the mass
transfer coefficient such as:
KL = 1.3 Sc-1/2 Re-1/2
K = 0.817 Sc-2/3 Re-1/2
where:  = viscosity of fluid
Sc = Schmidt number ( /Pd)
Re = Reynolds number
Reaction at the Surface of the biofilm
The rate of consumption of substrate at the surface of the biofilm
is given by Monod kinetics:

qm Ss
-rs = -------------
(Ks + Ss)

-rs = reaction rate, mass per unit time per unit area
qm = maximum specific substrate removal rate, mass per
unit time per unit area
Ks = saturation constant, mass per unit volume
Ss = substrate concentration at the biofilm surface
Mass Transfer Within the Biofilm
Substrate transport within the biofilm occurs through the process
of diffusion which is characterized by Fick’s law as the following:
Ns = -D (ds/dx)
where: D = diffusion coefficient,
area per unit time
ds/dx = concentration

Diffusion within the film:

Ns = -De (ds/dx)
Types of biofilm systems
 Fixed-medium systems
 Trickling filters
 Packed bed reactors
 Moving-medium systems
 Rotating biological contactors
 Fluidized bed reactors
 Trickling filters consists of three major components;
filter media, distribution system, and underdrain system.
 Microorganisms become attached to the media and form a
biological layer or fixed film. Organic matter in the wastewater
diffuses into the film, where it is metabolized. Periodically,
portions of the film slough off the media
 Filter Media
The filter media provide the surface and voids
Should have the following characteristics:
 Provide large surface area
 Allows liquid to flow in a thin sheet
 Has sufficient void spaces
 Biologically inert
 Chemically stable
 Mechanically stable
 Stone media
 usually crushed granite or lime stone
 size ranges between 2-4 inches
 surface area ranges from 50-98 m2/m3 with around 50% voids
 Plastic media
 Provides large surface area
 Provides large void spaces
 Dumped plastic media, surface area ranges from 98-340 m2/m3 with
void ratios of 95%
 Modular plastic media, surface area ranges from 81-195 m2/m3
 Distribution system
 Provides uniform hydraulic loading on the filter surface
 Rotational speed is usually 1 rev/10 min

 Underdrain system
 Supports the media
 Collects the effluent
 Permits circulation of air through the bed
 Made of vitrified clay (for stone media) or simple metal gratings
(for plastic media)

 Configuration
 Trickling filters can be employed as a single unit, units in series,
or units in parallel
Filter design parameters
 Hydraulic Loading
 Flow per unit area (m3/day.m2)
 Upper and lower limits should be considered
 Lower limit to wet all of the media
(for plastic media limit is higher than stone
 higher limit to prevent flooding of filter bed

 Organic loading
 Is the mass application rate of organic matter per
unit volume of reactor (lb BOD/day-1000ft3)
 Higher organic loading leads to excessive growth of

 Recirculation is used to increase the hydraulic

loading while keeping organic loading constant

Biological tower/Activated sludge processes

Metcalf & Eddy 2003

 Advantages:
 Ideal for remote sites or small communities due to their
simplicity and ease of operation
 Can handle shock loading due to the large mass of
microorganisms present in the filter and the nature of
the biofilm
 Produce dense sludge that can be easily removed by

 Disadvantages:
 There is no control on the effluent quality in response
to change in flow rate, organic concentration, and
 Breeding of flies and other insects in the summer
months creates a nuisance condition in the vicinity
 It consists of a series of circular disks of polystyrene or
polyvinyl chloride that are submerged in wastewater and
rotated slowly through it
 The disk rotation alternately contacts the biomass with the
organic material and then with atmosphere for adsorption of
 Excess solids are removed by shearing forces created by the
rotation mechanism
RBC staging arrangements

Metcalf & Eddy 2003

Advantages Disadvantages
 Short contact periods  Need for covering
 Handles a wide range units installed in cold
of flows climate to protect
against freezing
 Easily separates
biomass from waste  Shaft bearings and
stream mechanical drive units
require frequent
 Low operating costs
 Short retention time
 Low sludge production
 Excellent process
 Description:

 Fluidized bed systems are a combination of attached-

growth and suspended-growth systems
 Bed media consists of small particles usually sand or
granular activated carbon. Also, glass particles and
fabricated media can be used
 The bed packing material is kept in a suspension by
an upward flow of influent wastewater
 The effluent is discharged into a settling tank to
separate biomass escaping in the effluent
• Upflow system
with velocity 30-
36 m/h
• Bed of 0.4-0.5
mm sand or
activated carbon
• Bed depth 3-4 m
• 1000 m2/m2 Metcalf & Eddy 2003

 For aerobic applications, influent is aerated to

predissolve oxygen, because adding air to the bed
will discharge packing to the effluent;
 Mainly for post-denitrification
 Principles of the Process:
 Liquid is passed upwards through a bed of solid
 As the liquid velocity is increased, the bed expands
 The particles separate and become free to more
relative to each other
 The liquid velocity required to achieve this effect
depends on the relative densities of the liquid and
the particles, as well as the size and shape of the
 Advantages:

 Eliminate problems of clogging

 A very large surface area is available for the growth
of microorganisms
 Small compact systems
 Because the microorganisms are attached to the
solid particles, wash-out of microorganisms are
 Eliminate the need to recycle microorganisms back
to the reactor as the case of activated sludge
 Eliminates flow short-circuiting
 Efficient mass transport
 Disadvantages:

 Requires high degree of control

 Large accumulations of biological film on the
surface of the particles can lead to
aggregation of particles which would
adversely affect system performance
Moving-Bed Biofilm Reactor

Metcalf & Eddy 2003

 Wastewater flows upward
through a sludge blanket
composed of biological
granules that decompose
organic matter
 Some of the generated
gas attaches to granules
that rise and strike
degassing baffles
releasing the gas
 Free gas is collected by
special domes
 The effluent passes into a
settling chamber
Advantages Disadvantages
 Low energy demand  Long start-up period
 Low land requirement  Requires sufficient
 Low sludge production amount of granular
seed sludge for faster
 Less expensive than
other anaerobic start-up
processes  Significant wash out
of sludge during initial
 High organic removal
phase of process
 Lower gas yield than
other anaerobic
 Submerged upflow reactor packed with
synthetic media
 Operated under anaerobic conditions
 Recycle is desirable to dilute influent

 Media used:
 Sand particles
 Plastic media
 Aluminum oxide particles
 Advantages:

 Cell yield is low

 No oxygen is required
 Production of energy source (CH4)
 Low nutrient requirements

 Disadvantages:

 Low growth rates

 Sensitivity to pH changes
 Susceptibility to toxicity and inhibition
Metcalf & Eddy 2003

 Ringlace® packing is a looped polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

material (~5 mm in diameter); 25-35 % of reactor’s
volume; individual strands at 40-100 mm apart; specific
surface area 120-500 m2/m2.
Metcalf & Eddy 2003

• Biocarbone® process is
termed the biological
aerated filter (BAF).
• Over 100 facilities have
been constructed

• 3-5 mm fired clay material is used in current designs.

• High DO is required (3-5 mg/L).
• Generally, in the final effluent: BOD and TSS < 10 mg/L and
NH4-N 1-4 mg/L with nitrification.
Metcalf & Eddy 2003

 >100 installations in Europe and North

 Bed depth 2-4 m; packing termed
Biolite®, an clay material 2-4 mm.
 Used for BOD removal and nitrification/
tertiary nitrification and denitrification
Metcalf & Eddy 2003

Metcalf & Eddy 2003

• Upflow system
• Developed in

 Bed depth 1.5-3 m; packing with polystyrene beads 2-4

mm; specific surface area 1000 m2/m2.
 Used for BOD removal only/ combined BOD removal and
nitrification/ tertiary nitrification and post-
 Average effluent BOD, TSS and NH4-N concentrations of 7,
11 and 1.8 mg/L, respectively for long-term operation.
Metcalf & Eddy 2003
Metcalf & Eddy 2003
Nebel and Wright 1998
 Risk of the transmission of disease
through the use of untreated
wastewater for vegetable irrigation.
 Studies has shown that bacterial levels
are highest on leafy vegetables such
as lettuce and cabbage, as high as
37,000 TC per 100g or 3,600 FC per
 Rinsing in tap-water does not reduce
the indicators to safe levels and
outbreak of diseases such as cholera
have been associated with wastewater
irrigation of vegetables.
 Outbreaks of parasites have also been
linked to this practice.
 In Israel, stool samples containing Ascaris worms climbed to
35% when wastewater irrigation was used but fell to <1% after it
was banned.
 In the US, a coliform level of 2.2 per 100 ml wastewater is
allowed for food crops whereas for non-edible crops and/or for
general landscape irrigation, it is 5,000 per 100 ml, and for
recreational use 23 per 100 ml.
Recycle Treated Wastewater
• Reuse of treated effluent
from the Ngong Ping
Sewage Treatment Works.

Biological Biofilm Process, Dr. Alaadin A. Bukhari, Centre for
Environment and Water, Research Institute, KFUPM

Wastewater Treatment Technology, Prof. George Ayoub, Faculty of

Engineering and Architecture, American University of Beirut

Metcalf & Eddy, 2003