The influence of the volatile fatty acid composition of waste waters on biofilm development and on the time course of reactor start-up was investigated in laboratory scale fluidized bed reactors. It was found that biofilm development proceeded in a similar way with either acetate, butyrate, propionate or a mixture of these compounds as carbon source in the waste water. Startup was retarded, however, with propionate as sole carbon source. Scanning electron microscopic examination revealed that immobilization of bacteria on the sand used as adhesive support initially occurred in crevices and that thereupon the surface of the sand particles became colonized. The composition of the newly developed biomass was determined when reactors reached steady state. Significant differences in the relative substrate spectra and in the amounts of hydrogenotrophic and acetotrophic methanogenic bacteria were measured. The differences reflected the differences in the composition of the waste waters. The results obtained emphasize the role of the structure of the carrier surface in start-up of methanogenic fluidized bed reactors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology