Carbon-efficient Wastewater Treatment Through Resource Recovery, Process Intensification, and Partial Denitrification Anammox

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Virginia Tech


Facing the pressure of population growth and global warming, this dissertation provided an array of innovative carbon-efficient wastewater treatment technologies for resource recovery, process intensification, and anammox featured next generation biological nutrient removal (BNR) technologies. These technologies aim to supplant traditional carbon-intensive treatment processes with more sustainable alternatives. To this end, the dissertation first comprehensively reviewed what resources can be recovered from wastewater, and how these valuable resources can contribute to the carbon neutrality in water resource reclamation facilities (WRRFs) and help achieve sustainable society development. Then, the effect of mixed liquor recycle (MLR) configurations on the process intensification through continuous-flow aerobic granulation was explored in plug flow reactors. The results demonstrated that MLR configuration could hinder the sludge granulation, but the hindrance could be alleviated to some extent by its location change. In order to eliminate the energy consuming MLR, endogenous denitrification was taken advantage through a synergistic integration with partial nitrification, partial denitrification anammox (PdNA), and enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR). This idea was tested in a pilot setup treating real primary effluent under highly variable influent conditions and low temperatures. The results showcased substantial carbon savings while meeting the stringent effluent requirements. To take a deeper dive into the PdNA performance and the underlying mechanisms, two parallel pilot-scale moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) treatment trains fed with methanol and glycerol, respectively, were operated in a local WRRF. Their efficacies in achieving stringent nutrient removal targets and carbon savings were compared. The impacts of operational conditions on the mechanisms and performance were elucidated. In the culmination of this dissertation, a sidestream process intensification and resource recovery technique, namely thermal hydrolysis pretreatment (THP) enhanced anaerobic digestion (AD), was experimented to compare the efficiencies between thermophilic and mesophilic AD when integrated with THP. To sum up, this dissertation not only advanced our understanding of carbon-efficient wastewater treatment processes but also laid the groundwork for their practical implementation, contributing to the global effort towards sustainability.



Carbon efficient, biological nutrient removal, anammox, process intensification, anaerobic digestion, thermal hydrolysis pretreatment