Development and evaluation of woven fabric immersed membrane bioreactor for treatment of domestic waste water for re-use
Cele, Mxolisi Norman
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Increased public concern over health and the environment, the need to expand existing wastewater treatment plants due to population increase, and increasingly stringent discharge requirements, have created a need for new innovative technologies that can generate high quality effluent at affordable cost for primary and secondary re-use. The membrane biological reactor (MBR) process is one of the innovative technologies that warrant consideration as a treatment alternative where high quality effluent and/or footprint limitations are a prime consideration. MBR processes have been applied for the treatment of industrial effluent for over ten years (Harrhoff, 1990). In this process, ultrafiltration or microfiltration membranes separate the treated water from the mixed liquor, replacing the secondary settling tanks of the conventional activated sludge process. Historically, energy costs associated with pumping the treated water through the membranes have limited widespread application for the treatment of high volumes of municipal wastewater. However, recent advancements and developments in membrane technology have led to reduced process energy costs and induced wider application for municipal wastewater treatment (Stephenson et al., 2000). This report describes a small and pilot scale demonstration study conducted to test a woven fabric microfiltration immersed membrane bioreactor (WFM-IMBR) process for use in domestic wastewater treatment. The study was conducted at Durban Metro Southern Wastewater Treatment Works, Veolia Plant, South Africa. The main objective of this project was to develop and evaluate the performance of an aerobic woven fabric microfiltration immersed membrane bioreactor (WFM-IMBR) for small scale domestic wastewater treatment. The experiments were oriented towards three sub objectives: to develop the membrane pack for immersed membrane bioreactor based on WF microfilters; to evaluate the hydrodynamics of WF membrane pack for bioreactor applications; and to evaluate the long-term performance and stability of WFM-IMBR in domestic waste water treatment. The literature was reviewed on membrane pack design for established commercial IMBR. The data collected from literature was then screened and used to design the WF membrane pack. Critical flux was used as the instrument to measure the WF membrane pack hydrodynamics. Long-term operation of the WFM-IMBR was in two folds: evaluating the performance and long term stability of WFM-IMBR. The membrane pack of 20 flat sheet rectangular modules (0.56 m by 0.355 m) was developed with the gap of 5 mm between the modules. The effects of parameters such as mixed liquor suspended solids or aeration on critical flux were examined. It was observed that the critical flux decreased with the increase of sludge concentration and it could be enhanced by improving the aeration intensity as expected and in agreement with the literature. Hence the operating point for long term subcritical operation was selected to be at a critical flux of 30 LMH and 7.5 L/min/module of aeration. Prior to the long term subcritical flux of WFM-IMBR, the operating point was chosen based on the hydrodynamic study of the WF membrane pack. The pilot scale WFM-IMBR demonstrated over a period of 30 days that it can operate for a prolonged period without a need for cleaning. Under subcritical operation, it was observed that there was no rise in TMP over the entire period of experimentation. Theoretically this was expected but it was never investigated before. Good permeate quality was achieved with 95% COD removal and 100% MLSS removal. The permeate turbidity was found to be less than 1 NTU and it decreased with an increase in time and eventually stabilized over a prolonged time. Woven fibre membranes have demonstrated great potential in wastewater treatment resulting in excellent COD and MLSS removal; low permeate turbidity and long term stability operation. From the literature surveyed, this is the first study which investigated the use of WF membranes in IMBRs. The study found that the small scale WFM-IMBR unit can be employed in fifty equivalence person and generate effluent that is free of suspended solids, having high levels of solid rejection and has acceptable discharge COD for recycle. Future work should be conducted on energy reduction strategies that can be implemented in WFM-IMBR for wastewater treatment since high energy requirements have been reported by commercial IMBRs.