Microbubble aeration is supposed to be highly efficient for oxygen supply in aerobic wastewater treatment. In the present study, the performance of a fixed-bed biofilm reactor microbubble-aerated using a Shirasu porous glass (SPG) membrane system was investigated when treating synthetic municipal wastewater. The biofilm formation on the carriers was enhanced with microbubble aeration due to the strong adhesion of microbubbles to the solid surface. The dissolved oxygen concentration, the removals of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and nitrogen, and the oxygen utilization efficiency were influenced by the organic loading rate at a certain oxygen supply capacity. The relatively optimal organic loading rate was determined as 0.82 kgCOD/(m3 d) when the oxygen supply capacity was 0.93 kgO2/(m3 d), where COD and ammonia removal efficiencies were 91.7% and 53.9%, respectively. The corresponding SPG membrane area-based COD removal capacity was 6.88 kgCOD/(m2 d). The oxygen utilization efficiency of microbubble aeration was obviously higher compared to conventional bubble aeration. The simultaneous nitrification and denitrification occurred in the biofilm reactor and the total nitrogen removal efficiency of 50.4% was achieved under these conditions. In addition, the increase in air supply capacity of the SPG membrane system was suggested to improve its energy utilization efficiency.

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