A new sludge treatment process combining a high MLSS membrane bioreactor with sludge pretreatment techniques was studied in pilot-scale experiments. The membrane bioreactor (MBR) was adopted for high efficiency aerobic digestion. The combination of alkaline-ozone treatment of the mixed liquor in the MBR reactor accelerated the biodegradation process by enhancing biodegradability of the sludge. The hydraulic retention time (HRT) of the reactor was set as 3.1 days and the DO level was 1mg/L on average. After 5 months of operation, the accumulative total solids reduction was more than 70%. Removal efficiency of volatile solids and non-volatile solids were 76% and 54%, respectively. It was found that a considerable portion of the non-volatile solids was dissolved into ions and then flushed out with the effluent. Also, about 41% and 28% of T-N and T-P in the raw sludge were removed although no biological nutrient removal process was adopted. The experiment was run smoothly without significant membrane fouling, even at the relatively high levels of MLSS concentration (11,000–25,000mg/L). It is concluded that the newly proposed process can significantly increase the sludge reduction efficiency with much shorter retention times.

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