Clofibric acid and gemfibrozil removal in membrane bioreactors


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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