Treatment of strong organic, nitrogenous wastewater by an anaerobic contact process incorporating ultrafiltration

Y. Kitamura, T. Maekawa, A. Tagawa, H. Hayashi, K. L. Farrell-Poe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


An anaerobic contact process incorporating an ultrafiltration (UF) unit was used to treat distillery wastewater characterized by high carbon and nitrogen concentrations and a low carbon to nitrogen (C/N) ratio. By diluting the influent to the fermentor with water (2.6 to 2.8 fold), the ammonia accumulation or inhibition caused by its low C/N ratio was avoided. The UF unit was employed to thicken the sludge without washing out the microbes in the process. The resulting treatment system produced a methane yield of up to 0.6 m3/kg-VS and removed up to 80% of the volatile acids. The process ultimately failed when the UF membrane irrevocably fouled and caused a decrease of microbes in the fermentor. The process can be effective for the treatment of high strength, low C/N wastewater with some modifications, especially for membrane flushing. The quantity of fresh water for dilution could be reduced by filtering the UF filtrate using a reverse osmosis unit. To increase the volatile acids (VA) consumption rate, a two-phase fermentation process incorporating an UF unit may be able to thicken the targeted microbes independently of the microbial kinetics. The UF filtrate contained too high a VA concentration to be released into a waterbody directly; thus, this system needs a secondary treatment system to be considered a total wastewater treatment system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-714
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Engineering in Agriculture
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996


  • Ammonia
  • Anaerobic contact process
  • C/N ratio
  • Distillery wastewater
  • Inhibition
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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