Explaining widely varying biofilm-process performance with normalized loading curves

S. A. Wirtel, D. R. Noguera, D. T. Kampmeier, M. S. Heath, B. E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The goal of the research was to evaluate whether the method of normalized loading curves could explain the performance differences among three steady- state biofilm processes that had nearly identical loadings and process configurations. Three methanogenic fluidized-bed biofilm reactors were challenged with a range of surface loadings of three distinctly different organic substrates: acetate, phenol, and glucose. Normalized loading curves were generated from the four fundamental parameters (S(min), S(min)*, K*, J(R)) and compared to the experimental performance. The curves and the fundamental parameters explained why effluent concentrations of acetate and phenol were sensitive to loading, while the glucose concentration was insensitive; why effluent concentrations were much lower for phenol than for glucose at similar surface loads; and why acetate required a much higher surface loading to give similar performance trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-711
Number of pages6
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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