An Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR) pilot plant was studied to improve certain operational conditions of AnMBRs that treat high oil and grease wastewaters discharged from a snacks factory. A comparison of its performance and behavior was made with an upflow anaerobic reactor throughout the first eight weeks of its operation. Raw snack food wastewater was characterized by oil and grease concentrations of up to 6,000 mg/l, with chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biological oxygen demand (BOD5) concentrations of up to 22,000 and 10,300 mg/l, respectively. The AnMBR achieved COD removal efficiencies of 97% at an organic loading rate (OLR) of 5.1 kg COD/m3 d. The filtration flux, and the suction, backwash and relaxation times for each cycle were all varied: an 11 min filtration time involving 10 s pre-relaxation, 20 s backwash and 70 s post-relaxation was finally selected. The filtration flux for long-term operation was between 6.5 and 8.0 l/m2 h. The study also tested physical cleaning strategies such as intensive backwashing cycles and extended relaxation mode, and different chemical cleaning methods, such as chemically enhanced backwash on air and chemical cleaning by immersion.

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