A new approach to simultaneous ammonium and dissolved methane removal from anaerobic digestion liquor: A model-based investigation of feasibility

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Journal Article
Water Research, 2015, 85 pp. 295 - 303
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© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. The presence of a high level of dissolved methane (e.g., 20-26 g m-3) in the anaerobic sludge digestion liquor represents a major challenge to the treatment of this stream, as its emission to the atmosphere contributes significantly to the carbon footprint of wastewater treatment. Here we propose a new approach to simultaneous ammonium and dissolved methane removal from the anaerobic digestion liquor through integrating partial nitritation-Anammox and denitrifying anaerobic methane oxidation (DAMO) processes in a single-stage membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR). In such an MBfR, the anaerobic digestion liquor is provided in the bulk liquid, while oxygen is supplied through gas-permeable membranes to avoid dissolved methane stripping. A previously developed model with appropriate extensions was applied to assess the system performance under different operational conditions and the corresponding microbial interactions. Both influent surface loading (or hydraulic retention time) and oxygen surface loading are found to significantly influence the total nitrogen (TN) and dissolved methane removal, which jointly determine the overall system performance. The counter diffusion and concentration gradients of substrates cause microbial stratification in the biofilm, where ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) attach close to the membrane surface (biofilm base) where oxygen and ammonium are available, while Anammox and DAMO microorganisms jointly grow in the biofilm layer close to the bulk liquid where methane, ammonium, and nitrite are available with the latter produced by AOB. These results provide first insights and useful information for the design and operation of this new technology for simultaneous ammonium and dissolved methane removal in its potential future applications.
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