The main objective of this study was to develop an innovative process to maximize the bio-transformation of colloidal and soluble biodegradable matter (CSB) into particulate matter (XB) for energy recovery via methane production. Two configurations were studied: (1) high-rate moving bed bioreactor (HR-MBBR) and (2) inoculum-chemostat (IC) system consisting of a very HR-MBBR inoculating a continuous flow stirred-tank reactor. The effect of hydraulic retention time (HRT), specific organic loading rate (SOLR), and dissolved oxygen (DO) level were determined using real wastewater at pilot scale. Results showed that in the HR-MBBR process, a very high CSB bio-transformation efficiency (90%) was obtained in a wide range of SOLRs (2.0 to 5.5 g CSB m−2 d−1) corresponding to an optimum HRT of 36 minutes. The IC process reached a maximum CSB bio-transformation efficiency of 77%, at SOLRs ranging from 22 to 30 g CSB m−2 d−1 at an HRT of 3.7 hours. The DO concentration in the HR-MBBR influenced the CSB bio-transformation ratio, while the HRT and the SOLR were the dominant factors influencing this ratio in the IC process. Based on these results, the IC process could be an interesting alternative to high-rate systems towards obtaining energy positive/efficient from water resource recovery facilities.

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