The hybrid membrane biofilm process (HMBP) is a novel technology for total nitrogen (TN) removal from municipal wastewater. In the HMBP, a bank of gas permeable, hollow fiber membranes is inserted into an activated sludge system. Oxygen supplied by the membranes is consumed by a nitrifying
biofilm growing on the fibers, while the produced nitrate is reduced by suspended-growth denitrifying bacteria using BOD as an electron donor. This allows nitrification with solids retention times less than of 5 days, and allows concurrent nitrification and denitrification. A bench-scale HMBP
was operated for 100 days with a synthetic wastewater containing acetate and ammonia. A nitrification rate of 0.85 kgN-1000m−2-day−1 was achieved, with over 80% TN removal was achieved. Microbial ecology investigation indicated that the biofilm was
dominated by nitrifying bacteria, while the suspended solids consisted predominantly of heterotrophic biomass. Modeling indicated that the outer, anoxic biofilm layer consisted of heterotrophic biomass, while nitrifying bacteria accounted for the all of the interior, aerobic biofilm. Modeling
also showed that increasing the membrane surface area would result in almost complete nitrification and 90% TN removal efficiencies.
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