Anaerobic Fluidized Bed Membrane Bioreactor for Municipal Wastewater Treatment at Ambient Temperatures

EPA Grant Number: F13E30949
Title: Anaerobic Fluidized Bed Membrane Bioreactor for Municipal Wastewater Treatment at Ambient Temperatures
Investigators: Seib, Matthew
Institution: Marquette University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 24, 2014 through August 24, 2016
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental Engineering


Anaerobic biotechnology coupled with membrane filtration offers several benefits, but is currently an unproven process. An AnMBR will be developed for more sustainable sewage treatment at ambient temperatures (as low as 10 °C) to evaluate the sustainable benefits of the system with a focus on standard effluent quality parameters (such as biochemical oxygen demand), energy demands, renewable energy production, and membrane performance behavior.


Bench-scale AnMBRs will be constructed and operated at low temperatures (10 to 22 °C) and will be fed a synthetic municipal primary effluent wastewater. The AnMBRs will employ external tubular membranes in conjunction with activated carbon to retain slow-growing anaerobic biomass, achieve high-quality effluent and reduce the membrane fouling rate. Monitoring parameters—including biochemical oxygen demand, renewable energy generation from methane production, energy requirements for pumping and membrane operation, and membrane cleaning interval—will be quantified and compared to data for conventional activated sludge wastewater treatment.

Expected Results:

Bench-scale AnMBRs are expected to produce an effluent with a biochemical oxygen demand equal to that typical of conventional activated sludge processes. Additionally, the elimination of aeration and renewable energy production from methane will result in a significant reduction in required energy compared to activated sludge. Biosolids yields will be low and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus will not be significantly removed, so they can be recovered using downstream technologies. Combined, these outcomes will result in a more sustainable wastewater treatment process than conventional activated sludge.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

An anaerobic membrane bioreactor system would safeguard against the harmful effects of raw wastewater entering the environment and would provide further additional benefits. These benefits include reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint, renewable energy production, as well as fertilizer production using downstream nutrient recovery, thus reducing the need for other energy-intensive fertilizer production methods.

Supplemental Keywords:

anaerobic membrane, renewable energy, wastewater treatment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015
  • Final