Removal performance of heavy metals in MBR systems and their influence in water reuse

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The removal performance of heavy metals by two experimental full-scale membrane bioreactors (microfiltration and ultrafiltration) and the influence of activated sludge total suspended solid (TSS) concentration were studied under real operational conditions. Influent and effluent Be, Sc, V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Mo, Cd, Ba, Sn, Sb, Pb and U concentrations were analysed by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. An average contamination rate for most of the analysed heavy metals was observed in raw wastewater, resulting in effluents without limitation for reuse in agricultural destinations according to Spanish law. Removal efficiencies up to 80% were obtained regardless of whether microfiltration or ultrafiltration membranes were used, except for As, Mo and Sb. The removal yields of different heavy metals can be strengthened by increasing the activated sludge TSS concentration, mainly at concentrations above 10 g/L.

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