The performance of aerobic submerged packed bed reactors was studied for the treatment of domestic wastewater using different kinds of packing materials with high specific areas (760–1,200 m2/m3). The tested materials were ceramic spheres, crushed tezontle, grains of high density polyethylene (HDPE), of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and of polypropylene (PP), cubes of polyurethane (PU) and polyethylene tape (SESSIL). The bioreactors were operated in continuous regime, applying organic loads in the range of 0.8–6.0 g COD.m−2.d−1. The obtained specific COD removal rates were very similar in all the reactors when they were operated at organic loads up to 2.0 g COD.m−2.d−1, after which differences in effectiveness appeared and the best results were determined in the reactors with SESSIL, LDPE and PU. Very low TSS, O&G and turbidity were obtained in all the effluents. The NH3-N and TN removals were dependant on the dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration and the removals at DO of 5 mg/l were 84–99% and 61–74% respectively. The best removals were determined in the reactors with PU, SESSIL and LDPE. The reactor with tezontle had also a good performance when operated with loads up to 1.0 g TN.m−2.d−1. The best phosphate removals (38–49%) were obtained in the reactors with PU, tezontle, ceramic sheres and SESSIL.

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