Effect of hydraulic retention time on inorganic nutrient recovery and biodegradable organics removal in a biofilm reactor treating plant biomass leachate

Valdis Krumins, Mary Hummerick, Lanfang Levine, Richard Strayer, Jennifer L. Adams, Jan Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


A fixed-film (biofilm) reactor was designed and its performance was determined at various retention times. The goal was to find the optimal retention time for recycling plant nutrients in an advanced life support system, to minimize the size, mass, and volume (hold-up) of a production model. The prototype reactor was tested with aqueous leachate from wheat crop residue at 24, 12, 6, and 3 h hydraulic retention times (HRTs). Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), nitrates and other plant nutrients, carbohydrates, total phenolics, and microbial counts were monitored to characterize reactor performance. BOD removal decreased significantly from 92% at the 24 h HRT to 73% at 3 h. Removal of phenolics was 62% at the 24 h retention time, but 37% at 3 h. Dissolved oxygen concentrations, nitric acid consumption, and calcium and magnesium removals were also affected by HRT. Carbohydrate removals, carbon dioxide (CO2) productions, denitrification, potassium concentrations, and microbial counts were not affected by different retention times. A 6 h HRT will be used in future studies to determine the suitability of the bioreactor effluent for hydroponic plant production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-248
Number of pages6
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2002



  • Biofilm reactor
  • Crop residues
  • Fixed-film bioreactor
  • Hydraulic retention time
  • Nutrient recycling

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