A high concentration of biomass is required for a high loading potential for anaerobic processes. The process loading, based on the food to microorganism
(F/M) ratio, should be low in order to achieve efficient biomass formation and solids separation. A low F/M ratio at high loading rates can be achieved when the biomass concentration is high. The sludge in high-rate anaerobic systems often forms granules that help in retaining biomass and may also serve as an internal clarifier.
High-rate anaerobic processes often require relatively rapid internal settling to keep high levels of biomass in the reactor (Lettinga and Hulshoff-Pol, 1991b; Sung and Dague, 1995). Sufficient contact between the substrate and the biomass in UASB reactors and IBRs is maintained by a hydraulic upflow pattern and natural mixing by gas production (Lo et al., 1994). When a hydraulic upflow pattern is absent, sufficient biomass-substrate contact can be maintained by using intermittent, gentle mixing.
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