Wastewater effluents from the sugar industry contain high concentrations of organic materials which are sometimes discharged into the municipal wastewater collection system and processed in wastewater treatment plants along with domestic wastewater. This study examined the performance of a four-compartment, fixed-film system in which the biofilm is attached to submerged ceramic tiles under diffused aeration, known as the aerated submerged fixed-film (ASFF) process. Field experiments were conducted using four ASFF units each of about 100 1 capacity operated at different hydraulic loading rates to provide hydraulic residence time (HRT) of 2, 4, 6 and 8 hours. Process performance was evaluated under both normal operation with domestic wastewater and under pulse and prolonged organic shock loads with sugar wastewater. The influent and effluent of the process was analyzed for solids, BOD, COD, and nitrogen forms to determine both carbonaceous and nitrogenous substrate removal. The ASFF process was found to be able to handle continuous severe organic loads increasing from about 5 to 120 g BOD/m2.d with slight decrease in organic removal efficiency from 97.9% to 88.5% for BOD and from 73.6 to 67.8% for COD. Nitrification was similarly decreased but at higher rates. The system was also able to cope with pulse injection of sugar wastewater and recovery to normal steady-state COD values was achieved in 10 hours for the 200 g COD/l spikes. An increase in the organic loading rate was accompanied by an increase in biofilm specific oxygen uptake rate until reaching a maximum which determines the optimum loading rate for process operation. Substrate removal rates were evaluated for process design.

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