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Treatment of gray water using anaerobic biofilms created on synthetic and natural fibers

Elsevier B.V.
DOI: 10.1016/j.psep.2012.12.004
  • Gray Water
  • Anaerobic Biofilms
  • Extracellular Polymeric Substance (Eps)
  • Confocal Imaging


Abstract Gray water treatment and reuse is an immediate option to counter the upcoming water shortages in various parts of world, especially urban areas. Anaerobic treatment of gray water in houses is an alternative low cost, low energy and low sludge generating option that can meet this challenge. Typical problems of fluctuating VFA, low pH and sludge washout at low loading rates with gray water feedstock was overcome in two chambered anaerobic biofilm reactors using natural fibers as the biofilm support. The long term performance of using natural fiber based biofilms at moderate and low organic loading rates (OLR) have been examined. Biofilms raised on natural fibers (coir, ridge-gourd) were similar to that of synthetic media (PVC, polyethylene) at lower OLR when operated in pulse fed mode without effluent recirculation and achieved 80–90% COD removal at HRT of 2d showing a small variability during start-up. Confocal microscopy of the biofilms on natural fibers indicated thinner biofilms, dense cell architecture and low extra cellular polymeric substances (EPS) compared to synthetic supports and this is believed to be key factor in high performance at low OLR and low strength gray water. Natural fibers are thus shown to be an effective biofilm support that withstand fluctuating characteristic of domestic gray water.

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