An innovative membrane assisted hybrid bioreactor was used to treat a mixture of two streams produced in a fish canning factory: a highly loaded stream that had previously been treated in an anaerobic contact reactor, and a second stream with a relatively low COD and N concentration. Experiments were carried out during two experimental stages: an aerobic stage, which is focused in the study on the aerobic oxidation of ammonia and COD and a nitrification-denitrification stage in which the study was mainly focused on the removal of nitrogen. Results of the aerobic period pointed out that it was feasible to achieve ammonia and COD removals of around 99% at OLR of 6.5 kg COD/m3·d and NLR of 1.8 kg N-NH4+/m3·d. Specific nitrifying activities of up to 0.78 g N-NH4+/g protein·d and 0.25 g N-NH4+/g VSS·d, were recorded for the attached and suspended biomass, respectively. Around 50-60% of the nitrifying capacity of the reactor was a result of the nitrifying capacity of the biofilm. During the nitrification-denitrification stage 76% of nitrogen removal was attained at an NLR of 0.8 kg N-NH4+/m3·d. The biofilm nitrifying activity was not affected by the operating conditions of the system, as a result of the preferential consumption of COD by suspended biomass in the reactor. Thus, the combination of a hybrid system, with both suspended and attached biomass, and an ultrafiltration membrane module might be an alternative for treating wastewaters in compact biological systems. The intrinsic characteristics of the system made it feasible to operate at high OLR without problems related with the settling properties of the sludge or the drop in the nitrogen conversion. There were no solids in the effluent as a result of the use of the membrane filtration module.

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