Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 10727–10737 | Cite as

Oxygen transfer improvement in MBBR process

  • Maria Cristina Collivignarelli
  • Alessandro AbbàEmail author
  • Giorgio Bertanza
Research Article


In the last years, the upgrading of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) could be required in order to comply with the more stringent regulation requirements. Nevertheless, the main issue is related to the surface availability. A proper solution could be represented by the attached biomass processes, in particular the moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBR), that have a significant footprint reduction with respect to conventional activated sludge (CAS). However, MBBR showed an important disadvantage: the poor aeration energy efficiency due to the use of coarse bubble diffusers, which guarantee high reliability and low maintenance costs with respect to fine bubble ones. Moreover, the presence of carriers inside the reactor emphasizes this aspect. The aim of this work is to verify the benefits achievable by installing a fine bubble aeration system inside a MBBR system. The comparison, in terms of oxygen transfer efficiency, between a medium bubble aeration system and a fine ceramic bubble diffuser was studied and the effect of biofilm growth on oxygen transfer was assessed. Several tests were carried out in order to test the operation of a coarse and a fine bubble side aeration at different air flow rates, both in clean water conditions, in order to evaluate the influence of carriers (Chip M type) on the aeration efficiency, both in wastewater conditions with the aim to assess the effect of bacteria growth on the carriers. The main results are the following: (i) the fine bubble system placed off-center ensured good mixing even without using the mixer; (ii) the fine bubble side aeration system compared to the coarse ones did not show significant advantages in terms of oxygen transfer efficiency; (iii) the increase in specific air flow rate negatively influenced the aeration efficiency; (iv) the presence of biomass had a positive effect on the oxygen transfer yield.


Wastewater treatment Moving bed biofilm reactor Aeration efficiency Attached biomass Coarse bubble aeration Fine bubble aeration 



The authors wish to thank Veolia and AnoxKaldnes AB for giving the financial and technical support to the experimental research. A special thanks to Eng. Gianfranco Favali for his useful suggestions in writing this paper and to Eng. David Danesi that carried out the experimental activities during his Master Thesis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering and ArchitectureUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Environmental, Architectural Engineering and MathematicsUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly

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