This paper reports on the influence of the material porosity on the anaerobic biomass adhesion on four different inert matrices: polyurethane foam, PVC, refractory brick and special ceramic. The biofilm development was performed in a fixed-bed anaerobic reactor containing all the support materials and fed with a synthetic wastewater containing protein, lipids and carbohydrates. The data obtained from microscopic analysis and kinetic assays indicated that the material porosity has a crucial importance in the retention of the anaerobic biomass. The polyurethane foam particles and the special ceramic were found to present better retentive properties than the PVC and the refractory brick. The large specific surface area, directly related to material porosity, is fundamental to provide a large amount of attached biomass. However, different supports can provide specific conditions for the adherence of distinct microorganism types. The microbiological exams revealed a distinction in the support colonization. A predominance of methanogenic archaeas resembling Methanosaeta was observed both in the refractory brick and the special ceramic. Methanosarcina-like microorganisms were predominant in the PVC and the polyurethane foam matrices.

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