The most common bioreactor type used for anaerobic digestion is the Continuously Stirred Tank Reactor (CSTR). The main problem of this reactor type, i.e. the fact that the active biomass is continuously removed from the system leading to long retention times, has been overcome in a number of systems based on immobilization of the active biomass. Two represenstative types are the Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket Reactor (UASBR) and the Anaerobic Baffled Reactor (ABR). The success of these reactor systems rests on the highly flocculated, well settling, compact methanogenic sludge granules which develop in these reactors. A novel reactor type named Periodic Anaerobic Baffled Reactor (PABR) has been designed, offering the following major advantage: it may be operated as an ABR, a UASBR or at an intermediate mode. The PABR hydraulic behavior has been characterized using residence time distribution experiments at different retention times. Simulating the PABR behavior, the dependence of the reactor performance on the switching frequency is determined as a function of the retention time. In particular, it is found that for high retention times the ABR mode is superior, whereas for low retention times, the UASBR mode should be preferred. In order to establish the accuracy of the predictions of the simulation study, the PABR behavior was experimentally verified using three different stable periodic states.

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