Nitrogen removal performance of intermittently aerated membrane bioreactor treating black water

S. Murat Hocaoglu*, E. Atasoy, A. Baban, G. Insel, D. Orhon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The study investigated the effect of intermittent aeration on the nitrogen removal performance of a membrane bioreactor (MBR) treating black water. A pilot-scale MBR with an effective volume of 630 L operating as a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) with intermittent aeration was used in the experiments. Substrate feeding was limited to the initial non-aerated phase. The MBR unit was sustained at a steady state at a sludge age of 60 d with a biomass concentration of around 10,000 mg/L for 3 months. The treated black water could be characterized with an average COD of 950 mg/L and total nitrogen of 172 mg/L, corresponding to a low COD/N ratio of 5.5. The selected MBR scheme was quite effective, reducing COD down to 26 mg/L, providing effective nitrification and yielding a total oxidized nitrogen concentration under 10 mg N/L. The nitrogen removal performance was substantially better than the level predicted by process stoichiometry, due to multiple anoxic configuration inducing additional nitrogen removal. Dissolved oxygen profiles associated with the cyclic operation of the system suggested that the incremental nitrogen removal could be attributed to simultaneous nitrification-denitrification, a commonly observed mechanism in MBR systems sustained at high biomass concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2717-2725
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2013


This study was partially funded by the European Commission under the MEDA programme, project ‘Zer0-m’ ME8/AIDCO/2001/0515/59768. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support provided by TUBITAK MRC. The authors also would like to thank all partners of Zer0-m project.

FundersFunder number
European CommissionME8/AIDCO/2001/0515/59768


    • Black water
    • Intermittent aeration
    • Membrane bioreactor
    • Nitrogen removal
    • Simultaneous nitrification and denitrification


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