Granular bed baffled reactor (Grabbr): solution to a two-phase anaerobic digestion system
A single unit anaerobic granular bed baffled reactor (GRABBR) is proposed as an alternative to a separately operated two-phase anaerobic digestion system. This overcomes the problems related to wastewater treatment at high loading rates which usually results in accumulation of intermediate acid products, and consequently inhibits methanogenesis. This study was carried out to evaluate the stability of a five compartment GRABBR system when treating synthetic glucose wastewater at various operational conditions. The reactor was started with volumetric organic loading rate (OLR) of 1 kg chemical oxygen demand (COD)/m³ day, equivalent to 120 h hydraulic retention time (HRT), and loading rates were gradually increased at suitable intervals to up to 20 kg COD/m³ day (6 h HRT). At steady state, the overall soluble COD (SCOD) removal was over 95% under all applied loading conditions. At lower loadings, the reactor operated as a completely mixed system, and most of the treatment was achieved in the first compartment. At higher loadings, the entire system transformed into different phases, acidogenesis being dominant near the influent point, whilst methanogenesis was the main activity in the compartments near the effluent point. Granule breaking and flotation was observed in the acidogenic zone, whilst the methanogenic zone retained its original granular form. High assimilation rate of influent nitrogen was observed in the first compartment with the formation of nongranular biomass, identified as Klebsiella pneumoniae. The success of GRABBR as a single unit two-phase anaerobic digestion system could save the cost of an extra unit traditionally employed to achieve similar goals in treatment of high strength wastewaters.