Influence of inoculum on growth and retention of the biomass in anaerobic filters
In this study we evaluated, on bench scale, two anaerobic filters of equal configuration and using coconut shell as support material, for the treatment of the wastewater generated in cassava’s starch extraction process. Considering that in the study area the inoculum available in enough quantity is cow manure, this inoculum was used alone (Reactor 1) and mixed with granular sludge in a ratio of 1:1 (Reactor 2). The influence of inoculum was evaluated in the performance of the anaerobic filters as well as in the biomass adaptation to the substrate and the prevalent growth on support material. Both reactors showed potential for the treatment of this type of wastewater, with a Hydraulic Retention Time (HRT) of 12 hours, an average Organic Loading Rate (OLR) of 7.0 kg COD/m3*d and a Buffer Index (BI) that varied from 0.20 to 0.35. The increase up to 50% in the Specific Methanogenic Activity (SMA) at the end of the start-up in both reactors, confirmed the adequate biomass adaptation to the substrate as a result of the control of buffer capacity, and the higher values in the R2, showed that cow manure mixed with granular sludge improved methane production and process efficiency. It was found that the occluded biomass had greater activity than the attached one; this showed that the support material allowed the development of a greater proportion of active biomass within the interstices.
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