Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 7693–7704 | Cite as

Experimental coupling and modelling of wet air oxidation and packed-bed biofilm reactor as an enhanced phenol removal technology

  • Marine Minière
  • Olivier BoutinEmail author
  • Audrey Soric
Research Article


Experimental coupling of wet air oxidation process and aerobic packed-bed biofilm reactor is presented. It has been tested on phenol as a model refractory compound. At 30 MPa and 250 °C, wet air oxidation batch experiments led to a phenol degradation of 97% and a total organic carbon removal of 84%. This total organic carbon was mainly due to acetic acid. To study the interest of coupling processes, wet air oxidation effluent was treated in a biological treatment process. This step was made up of two packed-bed biofilm reactors in series: the first one acclimated to phenol and the second one to acetic acid. After biological treatment, phenol and total organic carbon removal was 99 and 97% respectively. Thanks to parameters from literature, previous studies (kinetic and thermodynamic) and experimental data from this work (hydrodynamic parameters and biomass characteristics), both treatment steps were modelled. This modelling allows the simulation of the coupling process. Experimental results were finally well reproduced by the continuous coupled process model: relative error on phenol removal efficiency was 1 and 5.5% for wet air oxidation process and packed-bed biofilm reactor respectively.


Coupled process Advanced oxidation process Wet air oxidation Biological treatment Biofilm packed bed Process modelling Phenol 




Total biofilm surface area


gBOD L−1

Biological oxygen demand


mol L−1

Dissolved oxygen concentration in WAO


mol L−1

Hydroquinone concentration in WAO


mol L−1

Acetic acid concentration in WAO


mol L−1

Phenol concentration in WAO


g m−3

Phenol concentration at the packing/biofilm interface


g m−3

Phenol concentration in bulk liquid


g m−3

Phenol concentration at the biofilm/boundary layer interface


g m−3

Phenol concentration in the influent


gCOD L−1

Chemical oxygen demand


m2 s−1

Phenol diffusion coefficient in biofilm


m2 s−1

Phenol diffusion coefficient in water



Packing characteristic size


gphenol m−2 s−1

Phenol flux


L mol−1 s−1

Phenol oxidation rate constant


m s−1

Phenol mass transfer coefficient


g m−3

Phenol inhibition constant


g m−3

Phenol affinity constant



Boundary layer length


m3 s−1

Phenol flow rate


Ratio of phenol diffusion coefficient in biofilm on phenol diffusion coefficient in water


gCOD-X m−3 s−1

Bacteria growth rate


gphenol m−3 s−1

Phenol consumption rate


Reynolds number


Schmidt number


Sherwood number


gCOD-X m−3

Biofilm density


kgVS m−3

Biofilm density used in R calculation


gCOD-X gphenol −1

Heterotrophic biomass yield



Distance from packing



Specific growth rate


m2 s−1

Water kinematic viscosity

Supplementary material

11356_2017_8435_MOESM1_ESM.docx (236 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 235 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, Centrale Marseille, M2P2MarseilleFrance

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