Aeration strategy played an important role in reactor performance. In this study, when superficial upflow air velocity (SAV) decreased from 0.16 to 0.08 cm s-1, low dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) of 2.0 mg L-1 occurred in reactor. The required depth for anoxic microenvironment in biofilm decreased from 902.3 to 525.9 μm, which enhanced the growth of denitrifying bacteria and total nitrogen (TN) removal efficiency. However, decreasing aeration intensity resulted in insufficient hydraulic shear stress, which led to weak biofilm matrix structure. Mass biofilm detachment and reactor deterioration then occurred after 87 days of operation. An end gas recirculation aeration strategy was proposed to separately manipulate DO and aeration intensity. Low DO and high aeration intensity were simultaneously achieved, which enhanced the metabolism of denitrifying bacteria (such as Flavobacterium sp., Pseudorhodobacter sp., and Dok59 sp.) and EPS-producing bacteria (such as Zoogloea sp. and Rhodobacter sp.). Consequently, high TN removal performance (82.1 ± 2.7%) and stable biofilm structure were achieved.
Keywords: End gas recirculation; Fixed bed biofilm reactors; Hydraulic shear stress; Nitrogen removal efficiency; Oxygen diffusion.