Groundwater denitrification was carried out in a laboratory scale fluidized bed reactor using sand particles as the biomass carrier. This paper is concentrated on the fluidized bed reactor operation at very high nitrate loading rates (between 30 to 100 kg.NO3/m3 reactor/day) with corresponding short retention times (5 to 1.5 minutes). The effects of nitrate loading rate on nitrate and nitrite removal, as well as on reactor biomass profiles and biofilm characteristics, are presented in this article. The results of the present study indicate that this type of reactor can operate efficiently at retention times shorter than 3 minutes and at nitrate loading rates higher than 70 kg.NO3/m3/day. However, this system requires careful control of the biofilm thickness to achieve a reliable reactor operation.

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