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Open Access Modeling Energy Consumption in Membrane Bioreactors for Wastewater Treatment in North Africa

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Two pilot-scale membrane bioreactors were operated alongside a full-sized activated sludge plant in Tunisia in order to compare specific energy demand and treated water quality. Energy consumption rates were measured for the complete membrane bioreactor systems and for their different components. Specific energy demand was measured for the systems and compared with the activated sludge plant, which operated at around 3 kWh m−3. A model was developed for each membrane bioreactor based on both dynamic and steady-state mass balances, microbial kinetics and stoichiometry, and energy balance. Energy consumption was evaluated as a function of mixed-liquor suspended solids concentration, net permeate fluxes, and the resultant treated water quality. This work demonstrates the potential for using membrane bioreactors in decentralised domestic water treatment in North Africa, at energy consumption levels similar or lower than conventional activated sludge systems, with the added benefit of producing treated water suitable for unrestricted crop irrigation.

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Keywords: decentralised domestic waste water treatment; energy consumption; membrane bioreactor; specific energy demand

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK

Publication date: 2014-03-01

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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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