The protein (PN), polysaccharide (PS), and extracellular DNA (eDNA) percent concentrations of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of biofilms samples harvested from a pilot-scale nitrifying moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) were investigated at various operating temperatures and hydraulic retention times (HRTs). Chemically measured EPS PN/PS ratios were shown to correlate to Raman intensity ratios of amide III to carbohydrate at 362 rel. cm−1. The study also demonstrates that tertiary nitrifying MBBR systems may be optimized to operate at HRTs as low as 0.75 to 1.0 h as opposed to conventional HRTs of 2.0 to 6.0 h. The EPS of the nitrifying MBBR biofilm exhibited the lowest percent PN content and the highest percent PSs and eDNA content. In particular, the PN/PS ratios lower than 3 were indicative of non-optimal operation of the nitrifying MBBR systems; whereas PN/PS ratios with values significantly below 3 were observed for ammonia underloaded systems at high operating temperatures and hydraulically overloaded systems at low HRTs. This study demonstrates that the PN/PS ratio in EPS is a potential metric to identify non-optimal operation of nitrifying MBBR systems.
- extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)
- hydraulic retention time (HRT)
- nitrifying MBBR biofilm
- protein to polysaccharide ratio
- Raman spectroscopy
- First received 19 October 2015.
- Accepted in revised form 22 February 2016.
- © IWA Publishing 2016