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A novel membrane aerated was tested for the treatment of primary effluent at a local municipal wastewater treatment plant. The reactor design employs gas-permeable, hollow-fiber membranes that are submerged in the wastewater. Air or oxygen is blown through the inside of the fibers. The character of the biofilm is very different from conventional biofilms grown on inert surfaces, since in this case the biofilm receives its oxygen and the wastewater components from different directions.

Thick biofilms grew on the outside of the fibers and effectively treated the wastewater over a one year period of operation. Solids did not accumulate in the bioreactor and sludge yields were observed to be low.

The bioreactor was not equipped with a sedimentation tank and so the effluent contained between 20 mg/l to 120 mg/L total suspended solids with an average concentration of solids that was below about 40 mg/L. When the process was operated with hydraulic residence times (HRT) ranging between 4.7 — 9.4 hours the bioreactor provided 70 — 80% removals of both COD and N. Operating at an HRT of 2.1 hours caused a deterioration in effluent quality but the rate of removal of COD and N increased significantly.

Aeration costs for such a reactor are likely to be lower than conventional systems since gas compression is not required and the air supply delivers oxgyen directly to the supported biofilm.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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