Three Circulating Floating Bed Reactors (CFBR) R1, R2 and R3 with 20% v/v of a plastic carrier with different size distribution were operated to study the effect of the particles size of the carrier on biomass accumulation and nitrification performance. Operating conditions were similar in the three systems: ammonia concentrations around 50 mg-N–NH4+/ L, ammonia loading rates up to 1.2 kg N–NH4+/m3·d and temperatures between 14 and 27°C. Accumulation of nitrite was observed until day 65th. This w as result both of the inhibition of nitrite oxidation by free ammonia until day 20th and the insignificant accumulation of a biomass with low nitrite oxidising capacity between days 20 and 65th. Ammonia conversion rate and removal efficiency were higher in the reactor with lower particle size, R3 (nitrification rate of 1.1 kg N–NH4+/m3·d and ammonia removal of 97% at 16°C), than in R2 or R1 (nitrification rate of 1.0 kg N–NH4+/m3·d and ammonia removal of 90% at 16°C). The better efficiency in R3 was obtained as a result of the higher specific surface of the biofilm developed. Biomass activity was similar in the three reactors (2.2 and 1.12 g N/g protein · d at 30 and 15°C, respectively). Both the biomass evolution with time and biomass retention in the systems was practically not influenced by the size of particle. Biomass concentration of 1.2 g protein/L was retained in the carrier and up to 20% of the newly produced biomass was retained in the CFBRs.

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