The application of a granular activated carbon-sequencing batch biofilm reactor (GAC-SBBR) for treatment of wastewater containing 1,000 mg/L Acid Red 18 (AR18) was investigated in this research. The treatment system consisted of a sequencing batch reactor equipped with moving GAC as biofilm support. Each treatment cycle consisted of two successive anaerobic (14 h) and aerobic (8 h) reaction phases. Removal of more than 91% chemical oxygen demand (COD) and 97% AR18 was achieved in this study. Investigation of dye decolorization kinetics showed that the dye removal was stimulated by the adsorption capacity of the GAC at the beginning of the anaerobic phase and then progressed following a first-order reaction. Based on COD analysis results, at least 77.8% of the dye total metabolites were mineralized during the applied treatment system. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis revealed that more than 97% of 1-naphthyalamine-4-sulfonate as one of the main sulfonated aromatic constituents of AR18 was removed during the aerobic reaction phase. According to the scanning electron microscopic analysis, the microbial biofilms grew in most cavities and pores of the GAC, but not on the external surfaces of the GAC.

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