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Development and start up of a gas-lift anaerobic membrane bioreactor (Gl-AnMBR) for conversion of sewage to energy, water and nutrients

Journal of Membrane Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.memsci.2013.02.016
  • Anaerobic Digestion
  • Ultrafiltration
  • Resource Recovery
  • Decentralized Wastewater Treatment
  • Synthetic Sewage
  • Agricultural Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


Abstract A lab-scale, gas-lift anaerobic membrane bioreactor (Gl-AnMBR) was developed and evaluated for its ability to treat and recover resources from sewage. Gl-AnMBR is a hybrid treatment technology that combines anaerobic biological process with low-pressure membrane filtration. A synthetic sewage, mimicking household wastewater, was used as feed to the 10L suspended-growth bioreactor, which is coupled to a tubular PVDF ultrafiltration membrane (with biogas as sparge gas) for sludge/water separation. A series of rapid filterability assessments of flocculant anaerobic sludge was performed and a flux of 18L/m2h (LMH) could be obtained under the tested conditions. Under continuous operation (100d), the flux gradually settled to a stable range of 10–15LMH when weekly manual fouling control was applied. When frequent backwash (for 5min every 4h) was applied, an average flux of 50LMH was sustained. Gl-AnMBR showed excellent removal efficiencies of sewage organic matter (up to 98% and 95% in chemical oxygen demand and organic carbon removal, respectively), while producing methane as biogas (4.5L/d), which can be used for membrane scrubbing and energy recovery. The high-clarity permeate contained soluble nutrients derived from sewage organic matter (95.5% and 93.4% cumulative recovery for nitrogen and phosphorous, respectively, after 100d), which may potentially be used for combined fertilization/irrigation (fertigation). The study demonstrates that Gl-AnMBR is a promising technology for wastewater reuse and resource recovery.

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