Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 230:293 | Cite as

Membrane Filtration of Effluent from a One-Stage Bioreactor Treating Anaerobic Digester Supernatant

  • Magdalena ZielińskaEmail author
  • Wioleta Mikucka


A challenge in side-stream treatment of anaerobic digester supernatant is that the effluent does not meet discharge standards. To address this challenge, this study tested tubular multichannel ceramic microfiltration (MF) and ultrafiltration (UF) membranes for the post-treatment of anaerobic digester supernatant. Pollutant rejection (total suspended solids (TSS), COD, total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorus (TP)), color removal, and membrane susceptibility to fouling were determined at various transmembrane pressures (TMPs) (0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 MPa). Both methods completely removed TSS. In MF, COD was removed with 48–76% efficiency at 0.2–0.4 MPa. In UF, COD removal efficiency was slightly higher, reaching 83.7% at 0.4 MPa. With both methods, pollutant removal did not increase at TMP of 0.5 MPa. With both MF and UF, color was reduced by 54–100%, irrespective of the TMP. At 0.2–0.4 MPa, membrane resistance was lower and permeate flux was much higher with MF than UF. At 0.5 MPa, the methods differed only slightly from each other. Due to the larger cut-off, flux decline was slower in MF (0.7 h−1) than in UF (1.1 h−1), as the larger pore-size favors less foulant deposition. Thus, taking into account rejection efficiency, capacity, washing frequency, and cost (pressure), these results indicate that MF at 0.4 MPa is the most effective variant for post-treatment of anaerobic digester supernatant. With this variant, the almost colorless permeate contained 25 mg COD/L, no TSS, 55 mg TN/L (75% in the form of nitrites and nitrates), and 8.5 mg TP/L, thus meeting criteria for water to be used in irrigation or algae cultivation.


Anaerobic digester supernatant Microfiltration Ultrafiltration Fouling 


Funding Information

This study was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland (grant number 2016/21/B/NZ9/03630).

Wioleta Mikucka is a recipient of a scholarship from the Programme Interdisciplinary Doctoral Studies in Bioeconomy (POWR.03.02.00-00-I034/16-00), which is funded by the European Social Fund.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental BiotechnologyUniversity of Warmia and Mazury in OlsztynOlsztynPoland

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