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Anaerobic MBBR Process

Anaerobic treatment of wastewater is conducted by different types of microorganisms in absence of oxygen (air). It consists of multiple steps or biochemical reactions as follows:
Hydrolysis, which converts the feed substrates to simple soluble organic compounds such as monosaccharides (MA), amino acids (AA), and low carbon fatty acids (LCFA).
Fermentation, to form volatile fatty acids (VFA) such as acetate, propionate, butyrate, valerate. Methanogenesis is the synthesis of methane from VFAs.

Anaerobic Treatment Conceptual Process Flow Scheme

Special advantages of anaerobic treatment process

  • Much more cost-effective for high strength wastes (> 3000 mg/L COD) over the aerobic treatment.
  • Does not consume power continuously for aeration to oxidize pollutants in water. It has lower operation costs compared to other treatment methods.
  • Produces biogas that contains about 60% CH4 and 40% CO2, which is used for energy and revenue generation.
  • The growth of new cells is less than that for aerobic processes by orders of magnitude, so the sludge production is significantly lower.

Special features of anaerobic treatment process

The anaerobic process typically reduces the COD by 80 – 85% and further processing by an aerobic polishing system may be necessary to fulfill the discharge requirements. Temperature is an important parameter; the optimum range is between 35 to 38 °C because the kinetics become slower at lower temperatures and it takes a longer time to sustain the reaction.  Another important parameter to control is pH. The optimum pH range is between 6.8 to 7.5. If the pH drops down, the reaction will fail.

Headworks anaerobic MBBR EnergyCell™ is a specially developed MBBR for high strength wastewater treatment. The treatment is an integrated treatment system with specially designed ActiveCell™ media for biofilm growth. Headworks uses proprietary media, developed in-house, which is the main component of this system. This provides high surface area to support attachment of a large microbial population in the form of biofilms, which promote biochemical reactions in the wastewater treatment process at enhanced rates within limited reactor volume and footprint area. The media grow biofilm on the internal surfaces thereby protecting it from shock loads, fluctuations in flows and temperatures, and toxic chemicals.


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Several challenges faced by typical anaerobic reactors can be overcome by anaerobic MBBR

  • Ease of solid-liquid-gas separation.
  • It is robust against toxic or shock loads.
  • Its resiliency to peak flows and loads.
  • Easy recovery from washout situations as attached growth provides an inventory of biomass.
  • Ability to perform under footprint constraints.
  • Ability for easy retrofit to upgrade existing installations, and user friendly.
  • Enhanced sludge retention time (SRT) significantly without requiring additional footprint.