Recovery of volatile fatty acids (VFA) from complex waste effluents using membranes

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Waste effluents from anaerobic digesters of agricultural waste were treated with a range of membranes, including microfiltration and nanofiltration (NF), to concentrate volatile fatty acids (VFA). Microfiltration was applied successfully to produce sterile, particle-free solutions with a VFA concentration of 21.08 mM of acetic acid and 15.81 mM of butyric acid. These were further treated using a variety of NF membranes: NF270 (Dow Chemicals, USA), HL, DL, DK (Osmonics, USA) and LF10 (Nitto Denko, Japan), achieving retention ratios of up to 75%, and giving retentates of up to 53.94 mM of acetate and 28.38 mM of butyrate. DK and NF270 membranes were identified as the best candidates for VFA separation and concentration from these multicomponent effluents, both in terms of retention and permeate flux. When the effluents are adjusted to alkali conditions, the highest productivity, retention and flux were achieved at pH 7. At higher pH there was a significant reduction in flux.

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