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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11128

Title: Effect of Oxygen Partial Pressure and COD Loading on Biofilm Performance in a Membrane Aerated Bioreactor
Authors: Zhu, Ivan Xuetang
Advisor: Liss, Steven N.
Allen, D. Grant
Department: Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
Keywords: membrane aerated bioreactor
biofilm
oxygen partial pressure
confocal laser scanning microscopy
Issue Date: 28-Jul-2008
Abstract: The membrane aerated bioreactor (MABR) is a unique technological innovation where a gas permeable membrane is applied to biological processes. In an MABR, oxygen and other substrates diffuse from the opposite directions into a biofilm, and thus simultaneous chemical oxygen demand (COD) and nitrogen removal can be achieved. However, controlling biofilm thickness, stability, and attachment is challenging. The objectives of this research were to study the effect of oxygen partial pressure on process performance with respect to nitrogen removal and examine the biomass properties in MABRs at different oxygen partial pressures and COD loadings. The conditions within the bioreactors were based on a low hydrodynamic condition (average fluid velocity 22 cm/min along the membrane surface), with the intention of minimizing the impact of the hydrodynamic shear on biomass properties. Simultaneous nitrification and denitrification were achieved in the reactors, and increasing oxygen partial pressure enhanced the total nitrogen removal. The biomass at the membrane-biofilm interface was more porous at a loading of 11.3 kg COD/1000 m2/day (areal porosity about 0.9) as compared with a loading of 22.6 kg COD/1000 m2/day (areal porosity about 0.7), indicating carbon substrate was limiting near the membrane. Long-term (over 30 days) experimental results showed that at the loading of 11.3 kg COD/1000 m2/day, the oxygen partial pressures of 0.59 atm and 0.88 atm caused over 80% of the biomass to become suspended in the bulk phase while at 0.25 atm and 0.41 atm oxygen over 97% of the biomass was immobilized on the membrane. There is a critical oxygen partial pressure that can sustain the biofilm, which increases with an increasing COD loading. The nitrifying population in the reactors was examined by applying fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). At the loading of 22.6 kg COD/1000 m2/day, there were 12% beta-proteobacterial ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and 17%Nitrobacter in homogenized biofilm biomass at 0.59 atm oxygen while there were 7% beta-proteobacterial AOB and 4% Nitrobacter at 0.25 atm oxygen. The ratio of protein to carbohydrate in extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of the homogenized biomass in the reactor decreased with increasing oxygen partial pressure. Surface characterization of the biomass revealed that the higher the oxygen partial pressure, the lower the biomass hydrophobicity and surface charge. The ratio of EPS protein to carbohydrate in a membrane aerated biofilm decreased when approaching the membrane-biofilm interface. The distribution of nitrifiers and dissolved oxygen profiles inside the biofilm suggested that dual substrate limitations exist, and it was concluded that the membrane aerated biofilm had an aerobic region in the inner layer and an anoxic region in the outer layer. It is proposed that the loss of EPS due to secondary substrate consumption, especially the loss of EPS proteins, at the bottom of the biofilm was responsible for biofilm detachment subjected to a critical oxygen partial pressure.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11128
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry - Doctoral theses

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