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Influence of Different Mesh Filter Module Configurations on Effluent Quality and Long-Term Filtration Performance

Loderer, Christian, Wörle, Anna, Fuchs, Werner
Environmental Science & Technology 2012 v.46 no.7 pp. 3844-3850
activated sludge, aeration, air, ammonium nitrogen, biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, engineering, hydrodynamics, membrane bioreactors, microfiltration, porosity, turbidity, wastewater treatment
Recently, a new type of wastewater treatment system became the focus of scientific research: the mesh filter activated sludge system. It is a modification of the membrane bioreactor (MBR), in which a membrane filtration process serves for sludge separation. The main difference is that a mesh filter is used instead of the membrane. The effluent is not of the same excellent quality as with membrane bioreactors due to the much lager pore sizes of the mesh. Nevertheless, it still resembles the quality of currently used standard treatment system, the activated sludge process. The new process shows high future potential as an alternative where a small footprint of these plants is required (3 times lower footprint than conventional activated sludge systems because of neglecting the secondary clarifier and reducing the biological stage). However, so far only limited information on this innovative process is available. In this study, the effect of different pore sizes and different mesh module configurations on the effluent quality was investigated varying the parameters cross-flow velocity (CFV) and flux rate. Furthermore the long-term filtration performance was studied in a pilot reactor system and results were compared to the full-scale conventional activated sludge process established at the same site. The results demonstrate that the configuration of the filter module has little impact on effluent quality and is only of importance with regard to engineering aspects. Most important for a successful operation are the hydrodynamic conditions within the filter module. The statement “the higher the pore size the higher the effluent turbidity” was verified. Excellent effluent quality with suspended solids between 5 and 15 mg L–¹ and high biological elimination rates (chemical oxygen demand (COD) 90–95%, biological oxygen demand (BOD5) 94–98%, total nitrogen (TN) 70–80%, and ammonium nitrogen (NH₄-N) 95–99%) were achieved and also compared to those of conventional activated sludge systems. Regarding the air requirement for module aeration, which is the main cost factor in MBR technology, an astonishing optimization could be achieved. During the long-term filtration experiments only 4 N m³/m³ was necessary to keep a stable filtration process for more than 3 weeks (MBR 20–50 N m³/m³).