In this paper a new type of anaerobic reactor is presented. The system has been developed by Biothane Systems and is marketed under the name Biobed® EGSB reactor (Expanded Granular Sludge Bed). In this reactor it is possible to grow and maintain a granular sludge under high liquid (10 m/h) and gas velocities (7 m/h). The most striking feature is the growth of biomass in a granular form, similar to the UASB granules: no carrier material is used. The process is specially suitable to treat waste water that contains compounds that are toxic in high concentrations and that only can be degraded in low concentrations (chemical industry). An example is given for a waste water originating from a chemical factory (Caldic Europoort) in the Netherlands. In this factory formaldehyde is produced from methanol. The waste water is characterised by high concentrations of these compounds (formaldehyde to 10 g/l and methanol to 20 g/l). Due to the special configuration of the anaerobic reactor it is possible to realise a removal efficiency for both compounds of more than 98%.

It is also possible to operate the reactor as an ultra high loaded anaerobic reactor (to 30 kg COD/ for applications in other sectors of industry (e.g. brewery, yeast, sugar, corn ethanol production etc).

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