The Role of Anaerobic MBR for Resources Recovery in a Circular Economy Context

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Wastewater Treatment and Reuse".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2023) | Viewed by 7804

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Valencia, València, Spain
Interests: sewage treatment; resource recovery from organic waste and wastewater; anaerobic processes; anaerobic membrane bioreactor; mathematical modelling
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current management of the urban wastewater and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste is mostly based on aerobic processes (mostly activated sludge systems and composting, respectively), which are known as energy consuming technologies. However, the new Circular Economy (CE) framework, together with the increasing need for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (see, e.g., European Green Deal) will guide the future tendency in policy making and encourage the use of more sustainable technologies. With the currently used aerobic processes, energy is consumed to oxidize organic matter and nitrogen to CO2 and NOx, which contribute directly and indirectly to global warming while resources such as organic matter and nutrients are eliminated. In contrast, anaerobic-based systems allow recycling organic matter (transformed to biogas as an energy resource) and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from organic waste and wastewater. The anaerobic waste sludge, after stabilizing, can also be used for land application as a source of organic matter for soil amendment and prevention of desertification, which also helps carbon sequestration.

The shift to anaerobic treatments applied to organic waste and wastewater is close to become a reality. Different technologies are available for anaerobic treatment, depending on the organic load rate, treatment volumes, working temperatures, etc. Whereas for most of large and centralized treatment plants anaerobic processes are already being used for waste sludge treatment, for small or decentralised locations extended aeration process is the most common technology. However, the new emerging Anaerobic MBR technology offer the possibility to switch to anaerobic-based processes in such small locations, so that all the organic matter in the wastewater can be anaerobically treated.

Therefore, this Special Issue will present research challenges and opportunities of Anaerobic MBR technology as the core process for resources recovery from organic waste and wastewater. Research papers regarding AnMBR applications, as well as post-treatment for nutrients recovery are welcome in this Special Issue.

Dr. Josep Ribes
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • resource recovery
  • anaerobic processes
  • anaerobic membrane bioreactor sewage treatment
  • biogas production
  • energy recovery
  • water reclamation
  • organic fraction of municipal solid waste

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 2296 KiB  
Article
Coupling AnMBR, Primary Settling and Anaerobic Digestion to Improve Carbon Fate When Treating Sulfate-Rich Wastewater
by Oscar Mateo, Pau Sanchis-Perucho, Juan B. Giménez, Ángel Robles, Nuria Martí, Joaquín Serralta and Aurora Seco
Water 2023, 15(20), 3574; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15203574 - 12 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1021
Abstract
The present work involved an assessment of the technical feasibility of coupling AnMBR, primary settling and anaerobic digestion to treat sulfate-rich wastewater at ambient temperature. The innovative approach used focused on reducing the carbon footprint of wastewater treatment while maximizing the energy recovered [...] Read more.
The present work involved an assessment of the technical feasibility of coupling AnMBR, primary settling and anaerobic digestion to treat sulfate-rich wastewater at ambient temperature. The innovative approach used focused on reducing the carbon footprint of wastewater treatment while maximizing the energy recovered from influent organic matter. In this process, primary settling reduces the COD/SO4-S ratio in the influent of the AnMBR system and completely removes organic matter by sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), while increasing the COD/SO4-S ratio in the sidestream anaerobic digester (AD), enhancing energy recovery and biogas quality. This approach has the significant advantage of only producing methane in the AD, so that the AnMBR produces a high-quality, methane-free effluent with no environmental impact from fugitive methane emissions. The performance of this treatment scheme was assessed by operating a demonstration-scale AnMBR plant fed by primary settled municipal wastewater at the hydraulic retention times of 25, 12 and 8.5 h. The results showed that the COD and BOD removed by SRB enabled setting the discharge limits at 25 and 12 h and lowered the carbon footprint to levels below those of an AnMBR plant fed by raw municipal wastewater, mainly by eliminating fugitive methane emissions. Full article
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21 pages, 3671 KiB  
Article
Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor for Microalgae and Primary Sludge Co-Digestion at Pilot Scale: Instrumentation, Control and Automation Implementation, and Performance Assessment
by Juan Francisco Mora-Sánchez, Rebecca Serna-García, Alberto Bouzas, Aurora Seco and Maria Victoria Ruano
Water 2023, 15(18), 3225; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15183225 - 11 Sep 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1703
Abstract
Anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) technology is gaining interest for circular economy integration in the water sector. However, its complexity, arising from the integration of anaerobic processes with membrane technology, poses a key challenge. Developing an appropriate instrumentation, control, and automation (ICA) system is [...] Read more.
Anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) technology is gaining interest for circular economy integration in the water sector. However, its complexity, arising from the integration of anaerobic processes with membrane technology, poses a key challenge. Developing an appropriate instrumentation, control, and automation (ICA) system is essential for its reliable long-term operation. In this study, an ICA system was developed to successfully manage an AnMBR pilot plant co-digesting two waste streams (microalgae and primary sludge). The ICA implementation enabled its stable long-term operation for 576 days, ensuring the proper performance of biological and filtration processes and yielding 215 NmLCH4·gCODinf−1 at 35 °C. Variables such as temperature, oxidation-reduction potential, permeate flux and biogas flow were identified as key parameters and controlled. This included a 23% reduction in the integral of absolute error compared to a PID controller for permeate flow and the maintenance of a 0.5% standard deviation for digester temperature. These controls enabled AnMBR performance optimization, the rapid detection of process issues, and early corrective actions. As a start-up strategy to ensure proper filtration performance in the long term, critical flux tests were conducted, guaranteeing a competitive total annualized equivalent cost of 0.0016 EUR/m3 for optimal conditions. The study also calculated greenhouse gas emissions in different scenarios, proposing optimal and more sustainable pilot plant operations, mesophilic conditions, biogas upgrading through microalgae cultivation, and grid injection, reducing emissions by 423 kgCO2e·tCOD−1. To ensure the viability of emerging technologies such as AnMBR, proper start-up protocols are crucial, including favorable filtration and biological process operating conditions, ICA implementation, and key parameter control for technical, economic and environmental success. Full article
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16 pages, 2658 KiB  
Article
Zeolites for Nitrogen Recovery from the Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor Permeate: Zeolite Characterization
by Jesús Godifredo, José Ferrer, Aurora Seco and Ramón Barat
Water 2023, 15(6), 1007; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15061007 - 7 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1886
Abstract
Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor technology has great advantages for treating wastewater, including energy recovery from organic matter. However, when the legislation requires that effluent standards be met in sensitive areas, this treatment cannot remove the nutrients, thus the permeate generated needs post-treatment. Apart from [...] Read more.
Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor technology has great advantages for treating wastewater, including energy recovery from organic matter. However, when the legislation requires that effluent standards be met in sensitive areas, this treatment cannot remove the nutrients, thus the permeate generated needs post-treatment. Apart from the biological processes, ion exchange is an alternative treatment for this stream since it can remove nutrients and concentrate them for later recovery as fertilizers. In this work, the feasibility of using a natural zeolite (clinoptilolite) for treating NH4 from AnMBR permeate was studied and tests were carried out on the adsorption kinetics of ammonium. Isotherm tests verified that activating natural zeolite to its -Na form improves its performance by 20% and increases qe from 2.37 to 2.86 mg NH4-N/g for a Co of 30 mg NH4-N/L. It was also found that the cations present in the water (especially Ca2+ and Na+) caused a 22% reduction in ammonium adsorption while organic matter was responsible for improving the retained ammonium by 22%. It was also found that the working pH (7.2 ± 0.2) is close to the optimal pH range (6–7) for zeolite performance. The tests on the AnMBR permeate indicate that clinoptilolite is a suitable material since treating this stream can retain up to 7.44 mg NH4-N/g. Full article
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13 pages, 6120 KiB  
Article
High Concentration Organic Wastewater with High Phosphorus Treatment by Facultative MBR
by Bing Wang, Yunlong Liu, Siyu Zhang, Kaihang Zhang, Pedro Alvarez, John C. Crittenden, Bing Sun, Lin Yang, Su Liu and Zhilin Ran
Water 2021, 13(20), 2902; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202902 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2615
Abstract
Phosphorus is one of the main factors causing water eutrophication, and the traditional phosphorus removal process causes phosphorus-rich sludge pollution. The facultative MBR process uses phosphate-reducing bacteria to convert phosphate into directly recyclable gaseous phosphine to solve this malpractice and make sewage become [...] Read more.
Phosphorus is one of the main factors causing water eutrophication, and the traditional phosphorus removal process causes phosphorus-rich sludge pollution. The facultative MBR process uses phosphate-reducing bacteria to convert phosphate into directly recyclable gaseous phosphine to solve this malpractice and make sewage become a new phosphorus resource. In order to investigate the phosphorus removal efficiency and the mechanism under facultative conditions, run the facultative MBR reactor for 30 days. The COD value, phosphate concentration, and phosphine yield were measured, and the changes of sludge metabolic pathway abundance and community composition in different periods were detected. According to the measurement, the maximum phosphorus removal efficiency is 43.11% and the maximum yield of phosphine is 320 μg/m3 (measured by the volume of sewage). Combined with thermodynamic analysis, the microbial mechanism of the reactor was proposed, and the possible transformation pathway of phosphorus was analyzed. At last, changes the phosphorus removal process from the ‘removal type’ to the ‘recycling type’. Full article
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