Anaerobic submerged membrane bioreactor (AnSMBR) treating low-strength wastewater under psychrophilic temperature conditions

David Martinez-Sosa, Brigitte Helmreich, Harald Horn

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48 Scopus citations


An anaerobic submerged membrane bioreactor (AnSMBR) treating low-strength wastewater was operated for 90 days under psychrophilic temperature conditions (20 °C). Besides biogas sparging, additional shear was created by circulating sludge to control membrane fouling. The critical flux concept was used to evaluate the effectiveness of this configuration. Biogas sparging with a gas velocity (U G) of 62 m/h together with sludge circulation (94 m/h) led to a critical flux of 7 L/(m 2 h). Nevertheless, a further increase in the U G only minimally enhanced the critical flux. A low fouling rate was observed under critical flux conditions. The cake layer represented the main fouling resistance after 85 days of operation. Distinctly different volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations in the reactor and in the permeate were always observed. This fact suggests that a biologically active part of the cake layer contributes to degrade a part of the daily organic load. Hence, chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiencies of up to 94% were observed. Nevertheless, the biogas balance indicates that even considering the dissolved methane, the methane yield were always lower than the theoretical value, which indicates that the organic compounds were not completely degraded but physically retained by the membrane in the reactor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-798
Number of pages7
JournalProcess Biochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Anaerobic submerged membrane bioreactor
  • Critical flux
  • Low-strength wastewater treatment
  • Membrane fouling
  • Psychrophilic treatment


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