Nitrogen oxidation and carbon removal from high strength nitrogen habitation wastewater with nitrification in membrane aerated biological reactors

Maryam Salehi Pourbavarsad, Behnaz Jalili Jalalieh, Christian Harkins, Ritesh Sevanthi, W. Andrew Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bioreactors for space habitation systems have unique constraints. One type of reactor that could meet these constraints are membrane aerated biological reactors (MABRs). The objective of this work was to establish the performance and optimal loading capacities of multiple MABRs with a variety of habitation waste streams. The MABRs operated over a large range of organic nitrogen (ON) and organic carbon (OC) loading rates (36–220 g/m3-d and 20–200 g/m3-d, respectively) across all wastewaters excluding humidity condensate (HC) where ON and OC loading rates ranged from 1.6 to 11 g/m3-d and 7–55 g/m3-d, respectively. OC and ON transformation rates (29–210 g/m3-d and 23–170 g/m3-d, respectively) were proportional to loading rates and similar to MABRs treating terrestrial high strength wastewaters at similar loadings. MABR maximum loading rates are limited by ON oxidation which controls pH. Above a pH of ~7.8 ON removal is inhibited by free ammonium due to the elevated concentrations of ON in all wastewaters excluding HC. While loading rates are lower than typical terrestrial systems, the MABRs stably operated for up to 5 years with limited maintenance and no solids processing. This work supports the use of MABRs to reliably stabilize habitation wastewaters with minimal consumables. These results also support the use of these MABRs for terrestrial high strength, low volume wastewaters where complex technology may be unsupportable, such as in rural or developing communities with no centralized treatment or for applications where typical two-phase aeration can lead to undesirable off gassing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106271
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Biological pretreatment
  • Carbon removal
  • Habitation wastewater
  • Membrane aerated bioreactor (MABR)
  • Nitrification
  • Water recovery

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