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Long Term Application of Bioreactor and Membrane Technologies for Treatment of Metalworking Fluid Wastewaters

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In the late 1980s, General Motors (GM) determined that various combinations of bioreactor and membrane technologies were effective for the removal of contaminants originating from the use of both petroleum and non-petroleum based metalworking fluids. In the early 1990s, GM adopted the use of the membrane biological reactor (MBR) process configuration for full scale treatment of manufacturing plant wastewaters at selected U.S. and international sites. The MBR system installed at the GM of Canada Ltd.(GMCL) Windsor plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (GMCL Windsor) in 1994, represented at the time the largest MBR facility in the world treating industrial wastewater. Although performance expectations were being met, after approximately five years of operation the MBR system flowsheet was modified to incorporate a membrane enhanced aerobic digester. The MBR-aerobic digester configuration has proven optimal to maintain treatment system performance while minimizing the costs of disposal of excess biomass and non-biodegradable membrane captured solids (i.e., waste solids). This paper reports the results from operation of the GMCL Windsor conventional MBR and the MBR-aerobic digester treatment systems, focusing on the 12 year plus operating history of the bioreactors and the membrane component.

The results from operation of the conventional MBR system from start-up in Januay 1996 through 2000, clearly showed the largest single cost associated with operation was the disposal of bioreactor waste solids. In an attempt to address this issue while ensuring the major advantages of the MBR technology were not compromised, the MBR-aerobic digester process configuration was developed and implemented in November 2000. The results derived from treatment plant performance and operating audits completed in the early 2000s and most recently in May of 2007, confirm the advantage of the MBR-aerobic digester flowsheet with respect to reducing the disposal cost of waste solids. There is no evidence that the modified scheme has negatively impacted the membrane system efficiency, performance or life expectancy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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