Volatile fatty acids and biogas recovery using thermophilic anaerobic membrane distillation bioreactor for wastewater reclamation

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Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Management, 2019, 231 pp. 833 - 842
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The effects of bioreactor temperatures and salinities of an anaerobic membrane distillation bioreactor (anMDBR) on the permeation performance and their potential recovery of bioresources were fully examined in this study. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study of a lab-scale anMDBR process utilizing sub-merged hollow fiber membranes. The hybrid system utilizing both membrane distillation (MD) and anaerobic bioreactors achieved 99.99% inorganic salt rejection regardless the operation temperatures and high initial flux from (2–4 L m−2 h−1) at 45–65 °C. However, after 7-day operation, the flux dropped by 16–50% proportional to the bioreactor temperatures. It was found that the effects of bioreactor temperatures had strong impacts on both the permeation performance and fouling behavior while salinity had insignificant effect. A compact non-porous fouling layer was observed on the membrane surface from the bioreactor operated at 65 °C while only a few depositions was found on the membrane from 45 °C bioreactor. In the present study, the optimal anMDBR temperature was found to be 45 °C, showing a balanced biogas production and membrane permeation performance including less fouling formation. At this bioreactor temperature (45 °C), the biogas yield was 0.14 L/g CODremoval, while maintaining a methane recovery of 42% in the biogas, similar recovery to those at bioreactor temperatures of 55 and 65 °C. The potential recovery of volatile fatty acids made anMDBR a more economically efficient system, in addition to its lower operation cost and smaller footprint compared with most other technologies for on-site wastewater treatment.
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