An Osmotic Membrane Bioreactor-Membrane Distillation System for Simultaneous Wastewater Reuse and Seawater Desalination: Performance and Implications

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Environmental Science and Technology, 2017, 51 (24), pp. 14311 - 14320
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© 2017 American Chemical Society. In this study, we demonstrate the potential of an osmotic membrane bioreactor (OMBR)-membrane distillation (MD) hybrid system for simultaneous wastewater reuse and seawater desalination. A stable OMBR water flux of approximately 6 L m-2 h-1 was achieved when using MD to regenerate the seawater draw solution. Water production by the MD process was higher than that from OMBR to desalinate additional seawater and thus account for draw solute loss due to the reverse salt flux. Amplicon sequencing on the Miseq Illumina platform evidenced bacterial acclimatization to salinity build-up in the bioreactor, though there was a reduction in the bacterial community diversity. In particular, 18 halophilic and halotolerant bacterial genera were identified with notable abundance in the bioreactor. Thus, the effective biological treatment was maintained during OMBR-MD operation. By coupling biological treatment and two high rejection membrane processes, the OMBR-MD hybrid system could effectively remove (>90%) all 30 trace organic contaminants of significant concern investigated here and produce high quality water. Nevertheless, further study is necessary to address MD membrane fouling due to the accumulation of organic matter, particularly protein- and humic-like substances, in seawater draw solution.
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