Feasibility of anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBR) for onsite sanitation and resource recovery (nutrients, energy and water) in urban slums

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Slums are challenging locations for sanitation technologies. High population densities, a lack of water and electricity infrastructure, and space constraints combine to ensure that many traditional waste treatment technologies fail when implemented in this context. This paper proposes the use of anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) for slum sanitation. AnMBRs allow for localized water reuse, high quality treatment, and energy production at the point of treatment. A water, energy, nutrient, and mass balance was conducted on a theoretical AnMBR directly coupled to a public toilet. The combined system would be capable of recycling its water for use in toilet flushing and would be capable of providing enough energy to power both the toilet and AnMBR operation. The addition of food waste to the feed would help to ensure process stability and energy production by the AnMBR. Ammonia accumulation within the system would have to be managed through struvite precipitation, ion exchange, oxidation, plant uptake or other means. Generated biogas can be converted into heat and/or electricity using small scale gas generators. AnMBR technology has high potential for success in slum settings, if considerations for maintenance and supplies are made as part of the design and system delivery.

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