A pilot-scale anaerobic fixed film reactor (AFFR) with vertically arranged PVC tubes as biomass carrier, treating poultry slaughterhouse wastewater was started-up in 74 days at temperatures between 20-24°C. The start-up process consisted of a long acclimatization phase followed by a low loaded growth phase, a gradual increase of OLR up to 9.2 kg COD/m3d, and a final maturation phase at moderated loads of 2.7 kg COD/m3d at which total COD removal efficiencies of 57% were achieved. Alkalinity ratio IA:PA was found to be the best control parameter to avoid VFA accumulation. OLR increase based on pH control was not satisfactory because changes in CO2 solubility caused daily by temperature and flow variations led to pH oscillations of 0.2 units. The low wastewater alkalinity, 260 mg/l CaCO3, was insufficient to buffer the pH system, therefore the pH decrease associated with the VFA accumulation was not easily detected and could not be used as a way of OLR control. Organic matter removal took place by accumulation and biodegradation processes. Limitation in the reactor hydrodynamics and particulate fraction hydrolysis was detected at high flow rates.

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