Two anaerobic forward osmosis (FO) membrane bioreactors (AnFOMBRs), Rchloride and Rsulfate, were operated for 100 days using NaCl and Na2SO4 as the draw solution, respectively. The operating conditions were identical for both systems, with a solids retention time of 30 d, hydraulic retention time of 8 h and using cellulose triacetate FO membrane. High rejection performance of FO membranes resulted in salinity accumulation in the bioreactors. Rchloride and Rsulfate reached a stable conductivity of about 35 and 11 mS/cm, respectively, at the end of the experimental run. Hypersalinity of Rchloride undesirably impacted biological growth; mixed liquor volatile suspended solids in Rchloride was much lower at 376 mg/L, whereas that of Rsulfate was 1,170 mg/L. Organic removals were excellent due to reduced organic loadings at low fluxes and thus, Rsulfate and Rchloride achieved secondary total organic carbon (TOC) removal efficiencies of at least 75%. Both AnFOMBRs started with an initial flux of 5 LMH. Flux for Rchloride stabilized at 0.25 LMH, while Rsulfate at 0.96 LMH. The high salinities of both reactors negatively impacted methanogenic growth. Application of the fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) technique confirmed the ousting of methanogens by sulfate reducing bacteria from the anaerobic consortium. Sparsely located methanogens were detected in Rchloride but none were detected in Rsulfate.

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