Effect of biocarriers on the nitrification and microbial community in moving bed biofilm reactor for anaerobic digestion effluent treatment

Environmental Research
Jang, D. S., Won, J, Y., Jo, Y, D., Kim, Y, O., Jang, A.

The performance of a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) depends largely on the type of biofilm carrier used. However, how different carriers affect the nitrification process, particularly when treating anaerobic digestion effluents, is not completely understood. This study aimed to evaluate the nitrification performance of two distinct biocarriers in MBBRs over a 140-d operation period, with a gradually decreasing hydraulic retention time (HRT) from 20 to 10 d. Reactor 1 (R1) was filled with fiber balls, whereas a Mutag Biochip was used for reactor 2 (R2). At an HRT of 20 d, the ammonia removal efficiency of both reactors was >95%. However, as the HRT was reduced, the ammonia removal efficiency of R1 gradually declined, ultimately dropping to 65% at a 10-d HRT. In contrast, the ammonia removal efficiency of R2 consistently exceeding 99% throughout the long-term operation. R1 exhibited partial nitrification, whereas R2 exhibited complete nitrification. Analysis of microbial communities showed that the abundance and diversity of bacterial communities, particularly nitrifying bacteria such as Hyphomicrobium sp. And Nitrosomonas sp., in R2 was higher than that in R1. In conclusion, the choice of biocarrier significantly impact the abundance and diversity of microbial communities in MBBR systems. Therefore, these factors should be closely monitored to ensure the efficient treatment of high-strength ammonia wastewater.