Fluidized-bed reactors in wastewater treatment are relatively recent innovations. The support matrix (sand, anthracite, reticulated foam) has a large surface area on which the biofilm adheres and thus they are able to operate at high biomass concentrations with high rates of treatment. This allows strong wastewaters to be treated in small reactors. They are also useful for the treatment of industrial wastewaters when variable loadings are encountered (Cooper and Wheeldon, 1980, 1982). The support matrix is fluidized by the upflow of effluent through the reactor, and the degree of bed expansion is controlled by the flow rate of wastewater. The treated effluent can thus be decanted off without loss of the support matrix and with careful operation a secondary sedimentation tank may not be needed. The support matrix is regularly withdrawn to remove excess biomass. Fluidized-bed systems can be operated aerobi-cally, anaerobically (see later section) or anoxically for denitrification.
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