Methanotrophic attached‐film reactor development and biofilm characteristics

Donna E. Fennell, Shelia E. Underhill, William J. Jewell

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16 Scopus citations


The feasibility of using methanotrophs in an attached‐film, fluidized‐bed (MAFFB) reactor system has been under investigation since 1987. Mixed culture, methane‐utilizing attached biofilms were developed on diatomaceous earth particles and on granular activated carbon. The required feed gases, methane and oxygen, were supplied to the attached biofilm in disolved form using separate gas–liquid aeration columns. Biofilm growth was steady despite low influent dissolved methane concentrations (1 to 3 mg/L). A breeder MAFFB operated consistently for 4.1 years with attached biofilm concentrations as high as 51.7 g VS/L static‐bed with minimal biomass wasting and with minimal buffer and nutrient inputs. The maximum biomass concentration observed was 75.6 g VS/L static‐bed in a MAFFB reactor treating trichloroethene. Biofilm thickness reached 160 μm with typical values of 70 μm under methane and oxygen growht‐rate–limited conditions. Biofilm densities of 120 to 190 g VS/L film were observed. Growth rates varied from <0.01/d to 0.17/d. Greater than 90% of the biomass concentration in the bed was attached, and effluent total suspended solids ranged from 5 to 74 mg/L, with an average of 24 mg/L over 27 runs in four MAFFB systems at upflow velocities of 11.4 to 25 m/h. Heterotrophic attached‐film methanotrophs appear to be stable and useful for applications in toxics treatment, and other product manipulations. © 1992 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1218-1232
Number of pages15
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 5 1992
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


  • attached‐film
  • biofilm
  • film density
  • film thickness
  • fluidized‐bed
  • methanotroph


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