Nitrous oxide from moving bed based integrated fixed film activated sludge membrane bioreactors

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The present paper reports the results of a nitrous oxide (N2O) production investigation in a moving bed based integrated fixed film activated sludge (IFAS) membrane bioreactor (MBR) pilot plant designed in accordance with the University of Cape Town layout for biological phosphorous removal. Gaseous and liquid samples were collected in order to measure the gaseous as well as the dissolved concentration of N2O. Furthermore, the gas flow rate from each reactor was measured and the gas flux was estimated. The results confirmed that the anoxic reactor represents the main source of nitrous oxide production. A significant production of N2O was, however, also found in the anaerobic reactor, thus indicating a probable occurrence of the denitrifying phosphate accumulating organism activity. The highest N2O fluxes were emitted from the aerated reactors (3.09 g N2O[sbnd]N m−2 h−1 and 9.87 g N2O[sbnd]N m−2 h−1, aerobic and MBR tank, respectively). The emission factor highlighted that only 1% of the total treated nitrogen was emitted from the pilot plant. Furthermore, the measured N2O concentrations in the permeate flow were comparable with other reactors. Nitrous oxide mass balances outlined a moderate production also in the MBR reactor despite the low hydraulic retention time. On the other hand, the mass balance showed that in the aerobic reactor a constant consumption of nitrous oxide (up to almost 15 mg N2O h−1) took place, due to the high amount of stripped gas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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