Biological ammonium oxidation was carried out in two inverse turbulent bed reactors fed with synthetic mineral wastewater containing a high ammonium concentration (100 mg N-NH4+/L). Both reactors were started-up and operated in the same conditions except for the solid carrier concentration: the solid hold-up ratios applied, defined as the ratios of static to expanded bed height, were 0.1 and 0.3 in reactors R10 and R30 respectively. These two solid hold-up ratios generate different particle-to-particle collision frequencies and, therefore, detachment forces. The influence of solid hold-up on biofilm growth and nitrifying performance was studied from a macroscopic (i.e. nitrate and/or nitrite production) and microbiological point of view. After 60 days of operation, both reactors contained the same amount of biomass. However, R10 produced only nitrate while nitrite accumulated in R30. A comparison of microbial populations in the reactors showed that R10 contained both ammonium and nitrite oxidizing populations such as Nitrosomonas and Nitrospira, whereas in R30, ammonium oxidizing populations were much greater than those of nitrite oxidizers. The major ammonium-oxidizing organism was not the same in both reactors.

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