Development of a model of the aerobic membrane bioreactor treating Illovo wastewater
Funded by: Illovo
March 2013 - September 2014

Project description
The Pollution Research Group has been commissioned by Illovo Sugar to conduct research on the operation of a thermophyllic Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR) plant and to determine whether heating or cooling should be applied to the MBR to overcome instability often experienced. This project aims to answer research questions through literature reviews and lab experimentation. Literature reviews investigate thermophyllic, high temperature, high rate, industrial effluent systems, as well as a comparison of this type of MBR system against other reactors on the basis of common criteria such as metabolic rate, sludge age, sludge concentration, and oxygen demand. 

Lab experimentation and modelling analyse mass balances on key components, particularly the COD, biological material, oxygen and water. This research will also result in a representative mass and energy balance model for the MBR, which will output the optimal predicted temperature of the MBR. A comparison will be performed on the various energy balances that have been found in literature to determine which model can best predict the temperature of MBR. The analyses will determine whether Illovo should apply heating to the MBR to maintain operation in a thermophilic regime that can overcome process upsets, or apply cooling to the MBR to operate in the mesophilic range.