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Bioprocess Biosyst Eng. 2009 Jan;32(1):31-9. doi: 10.1007/s00449-008-0217-5. Epub 2008 Apr 1.

Application of two component biodegradable carriers in a particle-fixed biofilm airlift suspension reactor: development and structure of biofilms.

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Institute of Water Quality Control, Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Garching, Germany.


Two component biodegradable carriers for biofilm airlift suspension (BAS) reactors were investigated with respect to development of biofilm structure and oxygen transport inside the biofilm. The carriers were composed of PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate), which is easily degradable and PCL (caprolactone), which is less easily degradable by heterotrophic microorganisms. Cryosectioning combined with classical light microscopy and CLSM was used to identify the surface structure of the carrier material over a period of 250 days of biofilm cultivation in an airlift reactor. Pores of 50 to several hundred micrometers depth are formed due to the preferred degradation of PHB. Furthermore, microelectrode studies show the transport mechanism for different types of biofilm structures, which were generated under different substrate conditions. At high loading rates, the growth of a rather loosely structured biofilm with high penetration depths of oxygen was found. Strong changes of substrate concentration during fed-batch mode operation of the reactor enhance the growth of filamentous biofilms on the carriers. Mass transport in the outer regions of such biofilms was mainly driven by advection.

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