Advancing the Adoption of Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactors

The full anaerobic membrane bioreactor paper, as published in Energy and Environmental Science.

Discrete design decisions evaluated as potential development pathways for AnMBR. Initial choices limited downstream alternatives, as indicated by black lines and brackets. Dissolved methane recovery and utilization options were available to all designs. This approach resulted in a total of 150 discrete AnMBR designs that were evaluated as potential development pathways.

Parallel coordinate plot comparing 150 designs based on costs (as NPV), net energy demand, and life cycle environmental impacts. Designs with the lowest cost (i.e., exclusively those with cross-flow, MT membranes) are blue and those that included submerged membranes and GAC are red. Designs below the black horizontal line in Net Energy Demand are energy positive.

Sensitivity of (A) cost as NPV and (B) global warming potential to 22 input parameters. Negative values indicate an inverse correlation between the input parameter and the output value. Tails are the 10th and 90th percentiles. Inputs were also categorized based on whether they impact all scenarios or are specific to the technology/process.

(RALEIGH, NC – February 18, 2016) – Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with Hazen and Sawyer and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, have published findings from a study geared towards advancing the adoption of anaerobic membrane bioreactors for organic carbon management at water resource reclamation facilities.

Anaerobic bioreactors have been identified as a promising technology for mainstream wastewater treatment as they can provide savings related to energy and sludge production while also allowing utilities to generate usable fuels like methane and hydrogen. Despite these benefits, anaerobic bioreactors have not been widely adopted into mainstream treatment due to significant land requirements, unreliable performance at low temperatures, odor potential and lack of nutrient removal capability.

The work highlighted in this research article helps to prioritize research and development efforts necessary to bring anaerobic bioreactors into more widespread practice.

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