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Comparison of Nitrification Rates in Conventional and Membrane-Assisted Biological Nutrient Removal Processes

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A membrane-assisted and a conventional activated sludge system, both operated in an enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) mode and under identical operating conditions, were studied to investigate the effect of the membrane solids–liquid separation on nitrification activity. Both the membrane EBPR (MEBPR) and conventional EBPR (CEBPR) processes achieved stable and complete removal of ammonium-nitrogen from the influent wastewater. However, when the intrinsic nitrification activity was assessed in offline batch tests, the CEBPR mixed liquor exhibited 15 to 75% greater nitrification potential than the MEBPR counterpart. These results were further validated by monitoring nitrification rates of conventional mixed liquor as it evolved toward a membrane mixed liquor. It was also demonstrated that the larger aerobic mass fraction of the MEBPR system could not be the only factor influencing the reduced intrinsic nitrification rate. The present study strongly suggests that the presence of a membrane solids–liquid separation per se may be sufficient to alter the nitrification kinetics of an EBPR mixed liquor and that this possibility should be considered in arriving at an appropriate process design.
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Keywords: biological nutrient removal; comparative study; membrane processes; nitrification activity; parameter estimation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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