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A novel approach for harnessing biofilm communities in moving bed biofilm reactors for industrial wastewater treatment

Biofilm Research Group, Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary AB, Canada

Special Issues: Biofilm engineering - Harnessing the power of beneficial biofilms

Moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBRs) are an effective biotechnology for treating industrial wastewater. Biomass retention on moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) carriers (biofilm support materials), allows for the ease-of-operation and high treatment capacity of MBBR systems. Optimization of MBBR systems has largely focused on aspects of carrier design, while little attention has been paid to enhancing strategies for harnessing microbial biomass. Previously, our research group demonstrated that mixed-species biofilms can be harvested from an industrial wastewater inoculum [oil sands process water (OSPW)] using the Calgary Biofilm Device (CBD). Moreover, the resultant biofilm communities had the capacity to degrade organic toxins (naphthenic acids—NAs) that are found in OSPW. Therefore, we hypothesized that harnessing microbial communities from industrial wastewater, as biofilms, on MBBR carriers may be an effective method to bioremediate industrial wastewater.
Here, we detail our methodology adapting the workflow employed for using the CBD, to generate inoculant carriers to seed an MBBR.
In this study, OSPW-derived biofilm communities were successfully grown, and their efficacy evaluated, on commercially available MBBR carriers affixed within a modified CBD system. The resultant biofilms demonstrated the capacity to transfer biomass to recipient carriers within a scaled MBBR. Moreover, MBBR systems inoculated in this manner were fully active 2 days post-inoculation, and readily degraded a select population of NAs. Together, these findings suggest that harnessing microbial communities on carriers affixed within a modified CBD system may represent a facile and rapid method for obtaining functional inoculants for use in wastewater MBBR treatment systems.
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Copyright Info: © 2015, Raymond J. Turner, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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