The performance of a conical fluidized bed (TFB) bioreactor, including the biofilm thickness, microbial space density, microbial cell matrix and its efficiency for COD degradation at a bed expansion ratio of 14 to 90%, was studied and compared with a cylindrical fluidized bed (CFB) bioreactor. The hydrodynamic characteristics of the TFB, especially the internal-circulation of bioparticles associated with its unique tapered geometry of the bed, created a much more uniform axial distribution of the bioparticles, leading to the formation of thinner and more compacted biofilms in the TFB compared to that in the CFB. The thinner biofilm in the TFB tended to be stable and possessed more than 6 times of microbial population density compared to the CFB. As a result, thinner biofilms in the TFB contributed to a higher COD removal efficiency, which remained at over 95% at operated expansion ratios, about 15 to 25% higher than that in the CFB.
Keywords: biofilm, conical fluidized bed, flow pattern