Wine production is seasonal, and thus the wastewater flow and its chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentrations greatly vary during the vintage and non-vintage periods, as well as being dependant on the winemaking technologies used, e.g. red, white or special wines production. Due to this seasonal high variability in terms of organic matter load, the use of membrane biological reactors (MBR) could be suitable for the treatment of such wastewaters. MBR offers several benefits, such as rapid start up, good effluent quality, low footprint area, absence of voluminous secondary settler and its operation is not affected by the settling properties of the sludge. A pilot scale hollow fibre MBR system of 220 L was fed by adequately diluting white wine with tap water, simulating wastewaters generated in wineries. The COD in the influent ranged between 1,000 and 4,000 mg/L. In less than 10 days after the start up, the system showed a good COD removal efficiency. The COD elimination percentage was always higher than 97% regardless of the organic loading rate (OLR) applied (0.5–2.2 kg COD/m3 d), with COD concentrations in the effluent ranging between 20 and 100 mg/L. Although the biomass concentration in the reactor increased from 0.5 to 8.6 g VSS/L, the suspended solids concentration in the effluent was negligible. Apparent biomass yield was estimated in 0.14 g VSS/g COD.

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