In this study, a pilot scale anaerobic-anoxic-oxic (A2O) process with submerged membrane (MBR) in the oxic tank was coupled with thermophilic aerobic digestion (TAD) reactor and was operated for longer than 600 days to treat real domestic wastewater. Regardless of the varying conditions of the system, the A2O-MBR-TAD process removed MLSS, TCOD, BOD, TN, TP, and E. coli about 99%, 96%, 96%, 70%, 83%, and 99%, respectively. The additional TP removal of the system was due to the precipitating agent directly added in the oxic reactor, without which TP removal was about 56%. In the TAD reactor, receiving MLSS from the oxic tank (MBR), about 25% of TSS and VSS were solubilized during 2 days of retention. The effluent of the TAD reactor was recycled into the anoxic tank of A2O-MBR to provide organic carbon for denitrification and cryptic growth. By controlling the flowrate of wasting stream from the MBR, sludge production decreased to almost zero. From these results, it was concluded that the A2O-MBR-TAD process could be a reliable option for excellent effluent quality and near zero-sludge production.

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