A new hybrid membrane bioreactor (HMBR) has been developed to obtain a compact module, with a small footprint and low requirement for aeration. The aim of this research was to assess its performance. The system consists of a single vertical reactor with a filtration membrane unit and, above this, a sponge fixed bed as support medium. The aeration system is located under the membrane unit, allowing for membrane cleaning, oxygenation, biofilm thickness control and bulk liquid mixing. Operated under continuous aeration, a bench-scale reactor (70 L) was fed with pre-treated, raw (unsettled) municipal wastewater. BOD5 and suspended solids removal efficiencies (96 and 99% respectively) were comparable to those obtained with other membrane bioreactors (MBRs). Total nitrogen removal efficiencies of 80% were achieved, which is better than those obtained in other HMBRs and similar to the values reached using more complex MBRs with extra anoxic tanks, intermittent aeration or internal deflectors.

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