Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, Vol.95, No.6, 1632-1639, 2020
Reshaping the activated sludge process: has the time come or passed?
Despite the amazing achievements over the years, the activated sludge (AS) process still maintains inherent drawbacks, namely gravity settling, high sludge ages, low excess sludge generation, etc., which hinder its successful operation and sometimes disrupt system performance. Substantial research on the subject has provided clear scientific evidence that time has come - or even passed - for reshaping the AS process. In the novel AS process, gravity settling will be replaced by membrane filtration, which will convert the system configuration into a membrane activated sludge (MAS) reactor; this configuration will be operated at an extremely low sludge age range of 2 to 4 days, which will maximize sludge generation and it will abandon the traditional anaerobic sludge digestion for optimizing energy recovery. It is suggested that super-fast membrane activated sludge (SFMAS) reactor be the new face of the AS process. SFMAS reactor will be the core unit of the AS process essentially limited to organic carbon (chemical oxygen demand) removal and energy recovery. The core SFMAS unit will also enable to benefit from all the assets of the AS process, such as nutrient removal, biopolymer recovery, etc., by means of hybrid systems in different configurations, i.e. by reactors with various functions that will be attached to the core unit. (c) 2019 Society of Chemical Industry