The impact of including membranes for solid liquid separation on the kinetics of nitrogen and phosphorus removal was investigated. To achieve this, a membrane bioreactor (MBR) biological nutrient removal (BNR) activated sludge system was operated. From batch tests on mixed liquor drawn from the MBR BNR system, denitrification and phosphorus removal rates were delineated. Additionally the influence of the high total suspended solids concentrations present in the MBR BNR system and of the limitation of substrate concentrations on the kinetics was investigated. Moreover the ability of activated sludge in this kind of system to denitrify under anoxic conditions with simultaneous phosphate uptake was verified and quantified.
The denitrification rates obtained for different mixed liquor (ML) concentrations indicate no effect of ML concentration on the specific denitrification rate. The denitrification took place at a single specific rate (K2) with respect to the ordinary heterotrophic organisms (OHOs, i.e. non-PAOs) active mass. Similarly, results have been obtained for the P removal process kinetics: no differences in specific rates were observed for different ML or substrate concentrations. From the P removal batch tests results it seems that the biological phosphorus removal population (PAO) consists of 2 different sets of organisms denitrifying PAO and aerobic PAO.