In the present study an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor and an expanded granular sludge bed (EGSB) reactor were operated with different substrates under the same conditions. Ethanol, diluted beer (as a brewery effluent model) and wastewater from a coffee industry were tested. Ethanol was fed at two different concentrations: 0.5 and 10 gCOD/l. Beer was diluted to a concentration of 3gCOD/l and coffee wastewater had a concentration of approximately 7 gCOD/l. During the operation, samples of sludge were taken from both reactors to measure TSS, VSS, size distribution and methanogenic activity. Batch assays were performed in a third reactor using ethanol at two different superficial velocities to measure substrate uptake. The overall COD removal for ethanol at 500 gCOD/l in EGSB and UASB reactors was similar (around 80% for a sludge loading rate of 0.8 gCOD/day/gVSS). Granular sludge experienced an important development in its characteristics during the operation with ethanol. Superficial velocity showed a positive effect on COD removal for ethanol below 5m/h. There were no big differences in the removal rates during the operation with coffee wastewater. Probably in this effluent the process is limited by the reaction kinetics instead of by the mass transfer, due to the complex nature of the waste. With diluted beer, EGSB reactor showed a better performance than the UASB.

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