Biological Efficiency and Control of a Membrane Bioreactor and Conventional Activated Sludge Process for Treating Municipal Wastewater

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The performance of a membrane bioreactor (MBR) was compared to a conventional activated sludge (CAS) process and it was aimed to identify the best technological option for a municipal sewage treatment plant (STP). The MBR system was fed by the diluted sewage coming from the main municipal sewer network, which contained an averagely lower concentration of organics, inorganics and biological pollutants. While the CAS system was fed by a concentrated sewage coming from household septic tanks, contained averagely high concentration of organics, inorganics and biological pollutants. CAS showed a higher removal efficiency of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS), volatile suspended solids (VSS), Fat-Oil-Grease (FOG), nitrogen, phosphorous, helminths ova (HO), and pathogenic bacteria compared to the MBR. Nevertheless, the removal efficiencies of nitrogen, HO and pathogenic bacteria in the case of CAS were lower than MBR due to the high concentration of those parameters in the influent fed to CAS. However, both the efficiency and the amount of removal for phosphorous in the case of CAS was quite higher than that of MBR due to extended aeration in CAS. The pathogenic bacteria and HO were removed almost 99.97% by the MBR, whereas the CAS removed 91±5% of the pathogenic bacteria and HO. Therefore, the effluent of the CAS system required additional disinfection for the reduction of pathogens and HO. In terms of biological efficiency and influent flexibility, both the systems can satisfy the national standards. Overall, the data suggested that CAS possessed a higher capacity of treating concentrated sewage for removing all pollutants to satisfactory limits except complete removal of pathogenic bacteria and HO. It was obvious that MBR possessed a membrane barrier to retain the pathogens and HO; therefore, they could be removed up to very low levels. However, further investigation is necessary to verify the MBR performance using the same concentrated sewage as CAS.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Marine Sciences [JAMS]
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Membrane bioreactor; Conventional activated sludge; Municipal wastewater treatment; Removal efficiency; Sewage treatment plant; National standards.

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