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Carbon and nutrient biological removal in a University of Cape Town membrane bioreactor: Analysis of a pilot plant operated under two different C/N ratios

  • Authors: Mannina, G.; Capodici, M.; Cosenza, A.; Di Trapani, D.
  • Publication year: 2016
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


The effect of the carbon-to-nitrogen (C/N) ratio variation in a University of Cape Town Membrane bioreactor (UCT-MBR) was investigated. The experimental campaign was divided into two phases, each characterized by a different C/N ratio (namely, 10 and 5, Phase I and Phase II, respectively). The UCT-MBR pilot plant was analysed in terms of carbon and nutrients removal, biomass respiratory activity, activated sludge features and membrane fouling. The results highlighted that the nutrients removal was significantly affected by the decrease of the C/N ratio during the Phase II. The biological carbon removal was also affected by the low C/N value during the Phase II. Indeed, the average biological COD removal efficiency was equal to 72.9% during the Phase II, while the average value was 82.8% in the Phase I. The respirometric batch test suggested that both heterotrophic and autotrophic species were severely affected by the lower C/N ratio in the Phase II. Moreover, a decrease of the membrane filtration properties was observed during the Phase II, mainly due to the worsening of the activated sludge features, which enhanced the increase of SMP production.