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Long-term performance of a membrane bioreactor treating table olive processing wastewater

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number8
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)2253-2262
Publication statusPublished
Early online date1/10/15
Original languageEnglish


BACKGROUND: Table olive processing wastewater (TOPW) is a seriously polluting and difficult to treat effluent, characterized by widely fluctuating pH and salinity, as well as high concentrations of organic matter and polyphenols. This systematic long-term study in a laboratory-scale pilot demonstrates that membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology is effective in substantially bio-degrading TOPW. RESULTS: After implementation of an appropriate protocol of active biomass acclimatization/proliferation, the MBR pilot was operated for 6 months with real TOPW effluent, under various operating conditions. Total organic carbon (TOC) and total polyphenol (TPh) compounds removal efficiencies were very high with mean values 91.5 and 82.8%, respectively; nutrient (N and P) removal was also satisfactory. The membrane exhibited stable performance at moderate biomass concentration, with a tendency to deteriorate at higher biomass concentration. Fouled membrane permeability could be fully restored by implementing the usual chemical cleaning protocols. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the high percentage TOC and TPh removal, the MBR effluent requires final post-treatment to remove a yellowish tint and further reduce its organic content, depending on local discharge standards. The MBR can serve as the basic treatment process in an integrated scheme for TOPW management, which needs additional R&D to further develop and optimize.