Membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology is a very reliable and extensively tested solution for biological wastewater treatment. Nowadays, separate treatment of highly polluted wastewater streams especially from hospitals and other health care facilities is currently under investigation worldwide. In this context, the MBR technology will play a decisive role because an effluent widely cleaned up from solids and nutrients is absolutely mandatory for a subsequent further elimination of organic trace pollutants. Taking hospital wastewater as an example, the aim of this study was to investigate to what extent MBR technology is an adequate ‘pre-treatment’ solution for further elimination of trace pollutants. Therefore, we investigated – within a 2-year period – the performance of a full-scale hospital wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) equipped with a MBR by referring to conventional chemical and microbiological standard parameters. Furthermore, we measured the energy consumption and tested different operating conditions. According to our findings the MBR treatment of the hospital wastewater was highly efficient in terms of the removal of solids and nutrients. Finally, we did not observe any major adverse effects on the operation and performance of the MBR system which potentially could derive from the composition of the hospital wastewater. In total, the present study proved that MBR technology is a very efficient and reliable treatment approach for the treatment of highly polluted wastewater from hospitals and can be recommended as a suitable pre-treatment solution for further trace pollutant removal.

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