Clofibric acid and gemfibrozil removal in membrane bioreactors

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The removal of two blood lipid regulators, clofibric acid (CLA) and gemfibrozil (GFZ), was evaluated using two identical aerobic membrane bioreactors with 6.5 L effective volume each. Polysulfone ultrafiltration hollow fiber membranes were submerged in the reactors. Different operating conditions were tested varying the organic load (F/M), hydraulic residence time (HRT), biomass concentration measured as total suspended solids in the mixed liquor (MLTSS) and the sludge retention time (SRT). Complete GFZ removal was obtained with F/M of 0.21–0.48 kg COD kgTSS−1 d−1, HRT of 4–10 hours, SRT of 10–32 d and MLTSS of 6–10 g L−1. The GFZ removal can be attributed to biodegradation and there was no accumulation of the compound in the biomass. The CLA removals improved with the SRT and HRT increase and F/M decrease. Average removals of 78–79% were obtained with SRT 16–32 d, F/M of 0.21–0.34 kgCOD kgTSS−1 d−1, HRT of 7–10 hours and MLTSS of 6–10 g L−1. Biodegradation was found to be the main removal pathway.

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