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Water Res. 2011 Jan;45(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2010.07.081. Epub 2010 Aug 5.

Control of start-up and operation of anaerobic biofilm reactors: an overview of 15 years of research.

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INRA, UR50, Laboratoire de Biotechnologie de l'Environnement, Avenue des Etangs, Narbonne F-11100, France.


Anaerobic biofilm reactors have to be operated in a way that optimizes on one hand the start-up period by a quick growth of an active biofilm, on the other hand the regular operation by an active control of the biofilm to avoid diffusion limitations and clogging. This article is an overview of the research carried out at INRA-LBE for the last 15 years. The start-up of anaerobic biofilm reactors may be considerably shortened by applying a short inoculation period (i.e. contact between the inoculum and the support media). Then, the increase of the organic loading rate should be operated at a short hydraulic retention time and low hydrodynamic constraints in order to favor biofilm growth. After the start-up period, biofilm growth should be controlled to maintain a high specific activity and prevent clogging. This can be done in particulate biofilm systems by using hydrodynamics to increase or decrease shear forces and attrition but is much more difficult in anaerobic fixed bed reactors.

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