Comparative performance of fixed-film biological filters: Application of reactor theory

Aquacultural Engineering




Nitrification is classified as a two-step consecutive reaction where R1 represents the rate of formation of the intermediate product NO2-N and R2 represents the rate of formation of the final product NO3-N. The relative rates of R1 and R2 are influenced by reactor type characterized hydraulically as plug-flow, plug-flow with dispersion and mixed-flow. We develop substrate conversion models for fixed-film biofilters operating in the first-order kinetic regime based on application of chemical reactor theory. Reactor type, inlet conditions and the biofilm kinetic constants Ki (h-1) are used to predict changes in NH4-N, NO2-N, NO3-N and BOD5. The inhibiting effects of the latter on R1 and R2 were established based on the ?? relation, e.g.:{A formula is presented}where BOD5,max is the concentration that causes nitrification to cease and N is a variable relating Ki to increasing BOD5. Conversion models were incorporated in spreadsheet programs that provided steady-state concentrations of nitrogen and BOD5 at several points in a recirculating aquaculture system operating with input values for fish feed rate, reactor volume, microscreen performance, make-up and recirculating flow rates. When rate constants are standardized, spreadsheet use demonstrates plug-flow reactors provide higher rates of R1 and R2 than mixed-flow reactors thereby reducing volume requirements for target concentrations of NH4-N and NO2-N. The benefit provided by the plug-flow reactor varies with hydraulic residence time t as well as the effective vessel dispersion number, D/??L. Both reactor types are capable of providing net increases in NO2-N during treatment but the rate of decrease in the mixed-flow case falls well behind that predicted for plug-flow operation. We show the potential for a positive net change in NO2-N increases with decreases in the dimensionless ratios K2, (R2 )/K1,( R1 ) and [NO2-N]/[NH4-N] and when the product K1, (R1) t provides low to moderate NH4-N conversions. Maintaining high levels of the latter reduces the effective reactor utilization rate (%) defined here as (RNavg/RNmax)100 where RNavg is the mean reactive nitrogen concentration ([NH4-N] + [NO2-N]) within the reactor, and RNmax represents the feed concentration of the same. Low utilization rates provide a hedge against unexpected increases in substrate loading and reduce water pumping requirements but force use of elevated reactor volumes. Further ?? effects on R1 and R2 can be reduced through use of a tanks-in-series versus a single mixed-flow reactor configuration and by improving the solids removal efficiency of microscreen treatment.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Comparative performance of fixed-film biological filters: Application of reactor theory
Series title:
Aquacultural Engineering
Year Published:
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Aquacultural Engineering
First page:
Last page: