Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.89, No.6, 630-646, 2005
Impact of membrane solid-liquid separation on design of biological nutrient removal activated sludge systems
Installing membranes for solid - liquid separation into biological nutrient removal (BNR) activated sludge (AS) systems makes a profound difference not only in the design of the BNR system itself, but also in the design approach for the whole wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). In multi-zone BNR systems with membranes in the aerobic reactor and fixed volumes for the anaerobic, anoxic, and aerobic zones (i.e., fixed volume fractions), the mass fractions can be controlled (within a range) with the interreactor recycle ratios. This zone mass fraction flexibility is a significant advantage in membrane BNR systems over conventional BNR systems with SSTs, because it allows for changing of the mass fractions to optimize biological N and P removal in conformity with influent wastewater characteristics and the effluent N and P concentrations required. For PWWF/ADWF ratios in the upper range (f(q) similar to 2.0), aerobic mass fractions in the lower range (f(maer) < 0.60), and high (usually raw) wastewater strengths, the indicated mode of operation of MBR BNR systems is as extended aeration WWTPs. Although the volume reduction compared with equivalent conventional BNR systems with secondary settling tanks is not as large (40% to 60%), the cost of the membranes can be offset against sludge thickening and stabilization costs. Moving from a flow-unbalanced raw wastewater system to a flow-balanced (f(q) = 1), low (usually settled) wastewater strength system can double the ADWF capacity of the biological reactor, but the design approach of the WWTP changes from extended aeration to include primary sludge stabilization. The cost of primary sludge treatment then has to be paid from the savings from the increased WWTP capacity. (C) 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.