With the MBBR IFAS (moving bed biofilm reactor integrated fixed-film activated sludge) process, the biomass required for biological wastewater treatment is either suspended or fixed on free-moving plastic carriers in the reactor. Coarse- or fine-bubble aeration systems are used in the MBBR IFAS process. In this study, the oxygen transfer efficiency (OTE) of a coarse-bubble aeration system was improved significantly by the addition of the investigated carriers, even in-process (∼1% per vol-% of added carrier material). In a fine-bubble aeration system, the carriers had little or no effect on OTE. The effect of carriers on OTE strongly depends on the properties of the aeration system, the volumetric filling rate of the carriers, the properties of the carrier media, and the reactor geometry. This study shows that the effect of carriers on OTE is less pronounced in-process compared to clean water conditions. When designing new carriers in order to improve their effect on OTE further, suppliers should take this into account. Although the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness of coarse-bubble aeration systems can be improved significantly by the addition of carriers, fine-bubble aeration systems remain the more efficient and cost-effective alternative for aeration when applying the investigated MBBR IFAS process.

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