An activated sludge/biofilm hybrid process treating municipal wastewater was studied in pilot plant trials. A new type of suspended carrier, with large effective surface area, was employed in the process with the aim of enhancing nitrification. The pilot plant was operated for 1.5 years in five different configurations including pre-denitrification in all five and enhanced biological phosphorus removal in the final two. The wastewater temperature ranged between 11°C and 20°C, and the nominal dissolved oxygen (DO) level was 5-6 mg/L. The nitrification rate obtained on the new carrier within the hybrid stage was in the range of 0.9-1.2 g NH4-N/m2/d corresponding to a volumetric rate of 19-23 g NH4-N/m3/h (total nitrification including nitrification in the suspended solids). More than 80% of the total nitrification took place on the carrier (and the remainder in the suspended solids). The nitrification rate was shown to correlate with DO, decreasing when the DO was decreased. The results supported the idea of using the new carrier as a tool to upgrade plants not having nitrification today or improve nitrification in activated sludge processes not reaching necessary discharge levels. The large surface area present for nitrification makes it possible to obtain high nitrification rates within limited volumes. The possibility to keep the total suspended solid content low (<3 g/L) and avoiding problems with the filament Microthrix parvicella, are other beneficial properties of the hybrid process.

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