The City of San Diego was awarded a grant in October 1998 from the Bureau of Reclamation to investigate the feasibility of using Membrane Bioreactors (MBRs) for water reclamation. Based on the findings of the first phase of the project (Adham et al., 1998), the project team concluded
that a parallel comparison of commercially available MBR systems needed to be evaluated at pilot-scale. Two submerged MBR systems, manufactured by Zenon Environmental Systems, Inc. and Mitsubishi Rayon Corporation, were evaluated at the Aqua 2000 Research Center in Escondido, California. The
project was designed to evaluate the feasibility of using MBR permeate treating municipal wastewater as a feed source for thin film composite reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. The first part of the project was dedicated to operating both MBRs in a nitrification and denitrification mode. After
completion of Part 1 of the project, both MBR systems were retrofitted and operated in a nitrification only mode. Throughout both parts of the study, the effluent from each MBR was fed to two separate, single stage RO pilot systems. Both the Zenon and Mitsubishi MBR systems showed high BOD
removal with values below the detection limit, and significant TOC reduction. The effluent turbidities from the MBRs were consistently less than 0.1 NTU. Both MBRs also produced a high quality effluent that could be used by thin film composite RO membranes. Although the MBR systems did not
show inorganic nitrogen removal at all points of the study, a better aeration system design would have improved removals.
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