Oxygen transferred from the liquid phase into a biofilm can be used for aerobic degradation of organic matter and for nitrification. A second possible pathway for the removal of organic matter is denitrification in anoxic zones deeper in the biofilm. At high organic loading rates with insufficient oxygen supply to the biofilm, denitrification could be induced by providing the biofilm with external nitrate. This possibility was tested in a pilot-scale trickling filter by adding a pulse of nitrate to a highly loaded trickling filter. The experiment showed that denitrification can indeed be induced by adding nitrate at high loading conditions and that this way a considerably increased substrate removal capacity can be obtained. The fact that denitrification occurred was confirmed by the increased production of CO2 from bioconversion processes, without a major change of the O2 consumption. The simplified mixed-culture biofilm model developed by Rauch et al. was extended for the description of off-gas measurements and was able to describe the results of the experiment very well.

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