An integrated fixed-film activated sludge (IFAS) pilot plant and a moving bed biofilm reactor coupled with an activated sludge process (MBBR/AS) were operated under different temperatures, carbon loadings and solids retention times (SRTs). These two types of hybrid systems were compared, focusing on the nitrification capacity and the nitrifiers population of the media and suspended biomass alongside other process performances such as carbonaceous and total nitrogen (TN) removal rates. At high temperatures and loadings rates, both processes were fully nitrifying and achieved similarly high carbonaceous removal rates. However, under these conditions, the IFAS configuration performed better in terms of TN removal. Lower temperatures and carbon loadings led to lower carbonaceous removal rates for the MBBR/AS configuration, whereas the IFAS configuration was not affected. However, the nitrification capacity of the IFAS process decreased significantly under these conditions and the MBBR/AS process was more robust in terms of nitrification. Ammonia oxidising bacteria (AOB) and nitrite oxidising bacteria (NOB) population counts accurately reflected the changes in nitrification capacity. However, significantly less NOBs than AOBs were observed, without noticeable nitrite accumulation, suggesting that the characterisation method used was not as sensitive for NOBs and/or that the NOBs had a higher activity than the AOBs.

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