Moving towards energy-neutral wastewater treatment with anaerobic membrane bioreactor


Project Description

The current approach to treat our wastewater relies heavily on aerobic-based treatment technologies and chlorination, both of which are energy intensive, costly and unintentionally introduce chemical contaminants to the final treated wastewater. Instead, we aim to implement anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) to clean the municipal wastewater due to the various advantages associated with anaerobic processes (e.g. low energy demand, low sludge production and generates methane as an energy source). This study is designed to demonstrate that AnMBR can treat municipal wastewater in an energy-neutral (where no added external energy is needed) or energy-positive (where the treatment process itself generates energy) manner. To achieve our objectives, this project aims to commission and optimize the operation of a pilot-scale AnMBR. Organic loading rate (OLR) will be varied to determine the optimal OLR for maximum energy recovery and best water quality. Different membrane cleaning strategies will also be looked into to devise the least energy-intensive process of mitigating membrane biofouling. During the course of operation, energy costs associated with pumps will be collated along with energy production rates (in terms of methane gas production). Backwashing and cleaning frequencies are also denoted. Costs of chemicals (e.g. H2O2, citric acid) will be determined. These values will go toward the calculating techno-economic analysis of the AnMBR system​​
Program - Environmental Science and Engineering
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Water Desalination and Reuse Center
Field of Study - ​Biotechnology, wastewater treatment

About the

Peiying Hong

Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Engineering

Peiying Hong
Professor Hong’s research interests include molecular microbiology and microbial aspects in water and wastewater ecosystems. Her research aims to understand the roles and interactions of microorganisms in these ecosystems, and to utilize the insights to solve issues related to water quality and water reuse. Professor Hong’s research also looks at the biotic contaminants (e.g. antibiotic resistance genes, mobile genetic elements, pathogens) that are present in the natural and engineered environments.

Desired Project Deliverables

​An optimized operational parameters for anaerobic membrane bioreactor​