The performance of a novel aerobic bioreactor with a specially designed submerged packing bed of high specific surface area density, made of polyethylene tape, was studied for the treatment of domestic wastewater. The reactor has a volume of 0.71 m3 and the specific area of the packing bed was 1,098 m2/m3. The operation was performed with and without effluent recycling, applying different organic loads in the range of 4.0–17.6 g COD m−2 d−1. No back-washings were carried out. Overall BOD5 removals of 90–95% were obtained with organic loads of 4.0–17.6 g COD m−2 d−1 and HRT of 0.2–1.1 h. Overall TN removal of 69–72% was obtained at loads of 0.8–4.6 g TN m−2 d−1 when effluent recycling was used. The reactor allowed obtaining high quality water for urban reuse and demonstrated an effective process performance and resistance to load variations. The developed biofilm was completely penetrated by the organic matter, ammonia and oxygen, providing high removal rates. Large biomass quantities, up to 13 g dry VS/m2, were reached in the reactor and the determined sludge yield coefficient was relatively low, of 0.25 g VSS/g COD. These results allow obtaining compact treatment systems with low sludge production and make the technology a suitable option for small wastewater treatment plants.

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