Two basic phenomena, reactor hydraulics and mass transport through biofilm coupled with kinetic expressions for substrate transformations were accounted for in order to describe the soluble COD removal mechanism in anaerobic fixed bed reactors. To provide necessary verification, experimental results from the long term operation of the pilot scale anaerobic reactor treating molasses wastewater were used. Theoretical evaluations verified by these experimental studies showed that a bulk zero-order removal rate expression modified by diffusional resistance leading to bulk half-order and first-order rates together with the particular hydraulic conditions could adequately define the overall soluble COD removal mechanism in an anaerobic fixed bed reactor. The experimental results were also used to determine the kinetic constants for practical application.
In view of the complexity of the phenomena involved it is found remarkable that a simple simulation model based on biofilm kinetics is a powerful tool for design and operation of anaerobic fixed bed reactors.