Minimizing the biological sewage sludge (BSS) produced by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) represents an increasingly difficult challenge. With this goal, tests on a semi-full scale Thermophilic Alternate Membrane Biological Reactor (ThAlMBR) were carried out for 12 months. ThAlMBR was applied both on thickened (TBSS) and digested biological sewage sludge (DBSS) with alternating aeration conditions, and emerged: (i) high COD removal yields (up to 90%), (ii) a low specific sludge production (0.02–0.05 kgVS produced/kgCODremoved), (iii) the possibility of recovery the aqueous carbon residue (permeate) in denitrification processes, replacing purchased external carbon sources. Based on the respirometric tests, an excellent biological treatability of the permeate by the mesophilic biomass was observed and the denitrification kinetics reached with the diluted permeate ((4.0 mgN-NO3−/(gVSS h)) were found comparable to those of methanol (4.4 mgN-NO3−/(gVSS h)). Moreover, thanks to the similar results obtained on TBSS and DBSS, ThAlMBR proved to be compatible with diverse sludge line points, ensuring in both cases an important sludge minimization.
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