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Progress Toward the Full Scale Application of the Membrane-Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR)

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An alternative design of the membrane aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) was developed to overcome some of the current technical and economical limitations preventing full scale applications of the process. The ZeeLung™ system uses a new dense hollow-fibre membrane with an unprecedented thin diameter. Two pilot units treating a synthetic high-strength industrial wastewater (4700 mgCOD/L, 145 mgTKN/L) operated successfully for 16 months. They performed simultaneous COD removal, nitrification and denitrification. The very high specific surface area (810 m2/m3) allowed the surface loading rate to be kept low enough (3.6 gCOD/(m2.d)) to maintain a relatively thin biofilm and use low-pressure air (41 kPa) instead of high-pressure pure oxygen. Intermittent air and liquid mixing at high frequency and low shear were compared: they were equally effective in enhancing substrate transfer, but failed to stabilize biofilm accumulation. Air sparging additionally prevented the acidification of the bulk by stripping CO2.
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Keywords: Membrane-aerated biofilm; biofilm thickness; design; hollow-fibre; industrial wastewater; mixing; oxygen transfer; sludge production; substrate transfer; surface loading rate

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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