Anaerobic biological wastewater treatment has numerous advantages over conventional aerobic processes; anaerobic biotechnologies, however, still have a reputation for low-quality effluents and operational instabilities. In this study, anaerobic bioreactors were augmented with an oxygen-transferring membrane to improve treatment performance. Two anaerobic bioreactors were fed a synthetic high-strength wastewater (chemical oxygen demand, or COD, of 11,000 mg l-1) and concurrently operated until biomass concentrations and effluent quality stabilized. Membrane aeration was then initiated in one of these bioreactors, leading to substantially improved COD removal efficiency (> 95%) compared to the unaerated control bioreactor (∼ 65%). The membrane-augmented anaerobic bioreactor required substantially less base addition to maintain circumneutral pH and exhibited 75% lower volatile fatty acid concentrations compared to the unaerated control bioreactor. The membrane-aerated bioreactor, however, failed to improve nitrogenous removal efficiency and produced 80% less biogas than the control bioreactor. A third membrane-augmented anaerobic bioreactor was operated to investigate the impact of start-up procedure on nitrogenous pollutant removal. In this bioreactor, excellent COD (> 90%) and nitrogenous (> 95%) pollutant removal efficiencies were observed at an intermediate COD concentration (5,500 mg l -1). Once the organic content of the influent wastewater was increased to full strength (COD = 11,000 mg l-1), however, nitrogenous pollutant removal stopped. This research demonstrates that partial aeration of anaerobic bioreactors using oxygen-transferring membranes is a novel approach to improve treatment performance. Additional research, however, is needed to optimize membrane surface area versus the organic loading rate to achieve the desired effluent quality.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Biotechnology and bioengineering|
|State||Published - Feb 20 2005|
- Hybrid bioreactor
- Membrane aeration
- Nutrient removal