Contributions of biofilm versus suspended bacteria in an aerobic circulating-bed biofilm reactor

H. Yu, B. J. Kim, B. E. Rittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This study demonstrated that, during the two-step biodegradation of toluene in an aerobic circulating-bed biofilm reactor, biofilm and suspended bacteria played critical roles. Although the suspended bacteria were less than 1% of the total amount of biomass in the system, they transformed up to 30% of the toluene into its intermediate in the bulk liquid phase. On the other hand, most of the toluene intermediate was removed inside the biofilm, where diffusion resistance reduced the toluene concentration, thereby relieving inhibition to the degradation reaction of the intermediate. The suspended bacteria are most important for rapidly biodegraded substrates, for which diffusion limitation controls the kinetics in the biofilm. They lose importance when the effects of an inhibiting substrate must be overcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilm
  • Circulation bed
  • Inhibition
  • Kinetics
  • Suspended bacteria
  • Toluene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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