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High rate domestic wastewater treatment at 15 °C using anaerobic reactors inoculated with cold-adapted sediments/soils-shaping robust methanogenic communities

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Evangelos Petropoulos, Shamas Tabraiz, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Dr Jan DolfingORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© The Royal Society of Chemistry. To choose the reactor format in which to employ a low temperature adapted seed for wastewater treatment, we compared a UASB and an AnMBRUASB (UF) reactor at low HRT and temperature (15 °C). The reactors were inoculated with biomass from reactors seeded with soils and sediments from low temperature environments, and fed real municipal wastewater. Both systems met the UWWT Directive (91/271/EEC) COD effluent standard (<125.0 mg L−1) with the AnMBR COD removal efficiency being slightly higher (86.2 ± 1.5%) than that of the UASB (79.3 ± 2.0%). Methane production rates were also higher for the AnMBR than for the UASB, resulting in a COD : CH4 of 26.1 ± 3.0 and 18.2 ± 2.1%, respectively. Higher methanogenic cell abundance was observed in the AnMBR (3בUASB'). The low conversion of COD to methane was attributed to (i) the presence of SO4 in the influent (120.4 ± 17.4 mg L−1), which scavenged up to 50% of the COD, and (ii) accumulation of un-hydrolysed lipids in the mixed liquor especially in the case of the AnMBR. The UASB was energy positive (0.041 ± 0.013 kW h m−3) whilst the AnMBR was energy negative (−0.221 ± 0.016 kW h m−3). The reactor design appeared to have a profound effect on the numbers and diversity of the methanogens: the hydrogenotrophic activity being favoured in the UASB. But both reactors had comparatively high cell specific rates of methanogenesis. We concluded that the slightly better performance of the AnMBR was not sufficient to offset its higher running cost and the complexity of its design.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Petropoulos E, Yu Y, Tabraiz S, Yakubu A, Curtis TP, Dolfing J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology

Year: 2019

Volume: 5

Issue: 1

Pages: 70-82

Print publication date: 01/01/2019

Online publication date: 31/10/2018

Acceptance date: 30/10/2018

Date deposited: 18/01/2019

ISSN (print): 2053-1400

ISSN (electronic): 2053-1419

Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry


DOI: 10.1039/c8ew00410b


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