Treatment of aqueous wastes by means of Thermophilic Aerobic Membrane Reactor (TAMR) and nanofiltration (NF): process auditing of a full-scale plant

  • M. C. Collivignarelli
  • A. Abbà
  • A. FrattarolaEmail author
  • S. Manenti
  • S. Todeschini
  • G. Bertanza
  • R. Pedrazzani


This work focuses on the Thermophilic Aerobic Membrane Reactor (TAMR) process. The research was carried out on a full-scale facility where, all along a 12-year period, daily monitoring and process audit tests were conducted for the process analysis and optimization. The plant treated -light and high-strength aqueous wastes and two different configurations were adopted: (1) thermophilic biological reactor + ultrafiltration (TAMR) and (2) TAMR + nanofiltration (TAMR + NF). In the latter case, the average chemical oxygen demand removal yield was equal to 89% and an effective denitrification (nitrogen oxides removal equal to 96%) was achieved by reducing the dissolved oxygen concentration in the bioreactor. Low specific sludge production was observed. Poor sludge settling properties were measured by a lab-scale settling test; respirometric tests (nitrogen uptake rate and ammonia uptake rate) showed the presence of denitrification and the inhibition of nitrification. Hydrodynamic tests revealed the presence of a significant dead space, thus showing room for improving the overall process performance. Finally, the rheological properties of the sludge were measured as a function of the biomass concentration, pH, temperature, and aeration scheme.


Thermophilic Aerobic Membrane Reactor (TAMR) Aqueous waste Rheological tests Performance assessment Audit tests 



The authors wish to thank Idroclean S.p.A. for their technical support to the research.


  1. Abbà, A., Collivignarelli, M. C., Manenti, S., Pedrazzani, R., Todeschini, S., & Bertanza, G. (2017). Rheology and microbiology of sludge from a thermophilic aerobic membrane reactor. Journal of Chemistry, 2017, 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abeynayaka, A., & Visvanathan, C. (2011). Performance comparison of mesophilic and thermophilic aerobic sidestream membrane bioreactors treating high strength wastewater. Bioresource Technology, 102(9), 5345–5352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahmed, M. B., Zhou, J. L., Ngo, H. H., Guo, W., Thomaidis, N. S., & Xu, J. (2017). Progress in the biological and chemical treatment technologies for emerging contaminant removal from wastewater: a critical review. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 323, 274–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. APHA. (2012). Standards methods for the examination of water and wastewater. In American Public Health Association (22nd ed.). Washington, DC, USA: American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation.Google Scholar
  5. Baroutian, S., Eshtiaghi, N., & Gapes, D. J. (2013). Rheology of a primary and secondary sewage sludge mixture: dependency on temperature and solid concentration. Bioresource Technology, 140, 227–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Collivignarelli, M. C., Abbà, A., & Bertanza, G. (2014). Treatment of high strength pharmaceutical wastewaters in a thermophilic aerobic membrane reactor (TAMR). Water Research, 63, 190–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Collivignarelli, M. C., Abbà, A., & Bertanza, G. (2015a). Why use a thermophilic aerobic membrane reactor for the treatment of industrial wastewater/liquid waste? Environmental Technology, 36(16), 2115–2124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Collivignarelli, M. C., Bertanza, G., Sordi, M., & Pedrazzani, R. (2015b). High-strength wastewater treatment in a pure oxygen thermophilic process: 11-year operation and monitoring of different plant configurations. Water Science and Technology, 71(4), 588–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Collivignarelli, M. C., Castagnola, F., Sordi, M., & Bertanza, G. (2015c). Treatment of sewage sludge in a thermophilic membrane reactor (TMR) with alternate aeration cycles. Journal of Environmental Management, 162, 132–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Collivignarelli, M. C., Pedrazzani, R., Sorlini, S., Abbà, A., & Bertanza, G. (2017a). H2O2 based oxidation processes for the treatment of real high strength aqueous wastes. Sustainability, 9(2), 244. Scholar
  11. Collivignarelli, M. C., Abbà, A., Bertanza, G., & Barbieri, G. (2017b). Treatment of high strength aqueous wastes in a thermophilic aerobic membrane reactor (TAMR): performance and resilience. Water Science and Technology, 76(12), 3236–3245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collivignarelli, M. C., Bertanza, G., Abbà, A., Torretta, V., & Katsoyiannis, I. A. (2017c). Wastewater treatment by means of thermophilic aerobic membrane reactors: respirometric tests and numerical models for the determination of stoichiometric/kinetic parameters. Environmental Technology, 40(2), 1–10.Google Scholar
  13. Collivignarelli, M. C., Abbà, A., Castagnola, F., & Bertanza, G. (2017d). Minimization of municipal sewage sludge by means of a thermophilic membrane bioreactor with intermittent aeration. Journal of Cleaner Production, 143, 369–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Collivignarelli, M. C., Castagnola, F., Sordi, M., & Bertanza, G. (2017e). Sewage sludge treatment in a thermophilic membrane reactor (TMR): factors affecting foam formation. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24(3), 2316–2325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Collivignarelli, M. C., Abbà, A., Bestetti, M., Crotti, B. M., & Carnevale Miino, M. (2019a). Electrolytic recovery of nickel and copper from acid pickling solutions used to treat metal surfaces. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 230(5), 101. Scholar
  16. Collivignarelli, M. C., Abbà, A., Carnevale Miino, M., & Damiani, S. (2019b). Treatments for color removal from wastewater: state of the art. Journal of Environmental Management, 236, 727–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Craig, K. J., Nieuwoudt, M. N., & Niemand, L. J. (2013). CFD simulation of anaerobic digester with variable sewage sludge rheology. Water Research, 47(13), 4485–4497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Duncan, J., Bokhary, A., Fatehi, P., Kong, F., Lin, H., & Liao, B. (2017). Thermophilic membrane bioreactors: a review. Bioresource Technology, 243, 1180–1193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dytczak, M. A., Londry, K. L., & Oleszkiewicz, J. A. (2008). Activated sludge operational regime has significant impact on the type of nitrifying community and its nitrification rates. Water Research, 42(8), 2320–2328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. EC. (2018a). Circular economy: implementation of the circular economy action plan. European Commission. Accessed 20 April 2019
  21. EC. (2014) COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS. A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030 (2014). Brussels.Google Scholar
  22. EC. (2018b) COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE, THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS AND THE EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK. A Clean Planet for all. A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy (2018). BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  23. EP/CEU. (2008) Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives. European Parliament and Council of the European Union.Google Scholar
  24. European Commission (2014). Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference document for common waste water and waste gas treatment/management systems in the chemical sector – final draft. Join Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies Sustainable Production and Consumption Unit European IPPC Bureau.Google Scholar
  25. Garrone, P., Grilli, L., Groppi, A., & Marzano, R. (2018). Barriers and drivers in the adoption of advanced wastewater treatment technologies: a comparative analysis of Italian utilities. Journal of Cleaner Production, 171, S69–S78. Scholar
  26. Hreiz, R., Latifi, M. A., & Roche, N. (2015). Optimal design and operation of activated sludge processes: state-of-the-art. Chemical Engineering Journal, 281, 900–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Juteau, P., Tremblay, D., Ould-Moulaye, C.-B., Bisaillon, J.-G., & Beaudet, R. (2004). Swine waste treatment by self-heating aerobic thermophilic bioreactors. Water Research, 38(3), 539–546. Scholar
  28. Kim, S., Kim, H., Hong, I., Ahn, H., Rahman, S., Jeong, K., et al. (2015). Inactivation effect according to the thermophilic aerobic oxidation process of encephalomyocarditis virus in swine manure. Journal of the Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University, 60(2), 485–492.Google Scholar
  29. Koutsou, O. P., Gatidou, G., & Stasinakis, A. S. (2018). Domestic wastewater management in Greece: Greenhouse gas emissions estimation at country scale. Journal of Cleaner Production, 188, 851–859. Scholar
  30. Kujawa, K., & Klapwijk, B. (1999). A method to estimate denitrification potential for predenitrification systems using NUR batch test. Water Research, 33(10), 2291–2300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. LaPara, T. M., & Alleman, J. E. (1999). Thermophilic aerobic biological wastewater treatment. Water Research, 33(4), 895–908. Scholar
  32. Le Moullec, Y., Gentric, C., Potier, O., & Leclerc, J. P. (2010). CFD simulation of the hydrodynamics and reactions in an activated sludge channel reactor of wastewater treatment. Chemical Engineering Science, 65(1), 492–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ma, H., Zhang, S., Lu, X., Xi, B., Guo, X., Wang, H., & Duan, J. (2012). Excess sludge reduction using pilot-scale lysis-cryptic growth system integrated ultrasonic/alkaline disintegration and hydrolysis/acidogenesis pretreatment. Bioresource Technology, 116, 441-447. 25Google Scholar
  34. Madoni, P., Davoli, D., & Guglielmi, L. (1999). Response of SOUR and AUR to heavy metal contamination in activated sludge. Water Research, 33(10), 2459–2464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Manenti, S., Todeschini, S., Collivignarelli, M. C., & Abbà, A. (2017). CFD-aided modelling for hydrodynamic analysis of biological reactor. European Water, 58, 47–51.Google Scholar
  36. Manenti, S., Todeschini, S., Collivignarelli, M. C., & Abbà, A. (2018). Integrated RTD− CFD hydrodynamic analysis for performance assessment of activated sludge reactors. Environmental Processes, 5(1), 23–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Metcalf, E., & Eddy, M. (2014). Wastewater engineering: treatment and resource recovery (pp. 1530–1533). USA: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  38. Mohapatra, D. P., Brar, S. K., Tyagi, R. D., Picard, P., & Surampalli, R. Y. (2014). Analysis and advanced oxidation treatment of a persistent pharmaceutical compound in wastewater and wastewater sludge-carbamazepine. Science of the Total Environment, 470, 58–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Muruganandham, M., Suri, R. P. S., Jafari, S., Sillan, M., Lee, G.-J., Wu, J. J., & Swaminathan, M. (2014). Recent developments in homogeneous advanced oxidation processes for water and wastewater treatment. International Journal of Photoenergy, 2014, 21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pellegrini, M., Saccani, C., Bianchini, A., & Bonfiglioli, L. (2016). Sewage sludge management in Europe: a critical analysis of data quality. International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, 18(3), 226. Scholar
  41. Ramos, C., Suárez-Ojeda, M. E., & Carrera, J. (2016). Biodegradation of a high-strength wastewater containing a mixture of ammonium, aromatic compounds and salts with simultaneous nitritation in an aerobic granular reactor. Process Biochemistry, 51(3), 399–407. Scholar
  42. Ratkovich, N., Horn, W., Helmus, F. P., Rosenberger, S., Naessens, W., Nopens, I., & Bentzen, T. R. (2013). Activated sludge rheology: a critical review on data collection and modelling. Water Research, 47(2), 463–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Renou, S., Givaudan, J. G., Poulain, S., Dirassouyan, F., & Moulin, P. (2008). Landfill leachate treatment: Review and opportunity. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 150(3), 468–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rozich, A. F., & Bordacs, K. (2002). Use of thermophilic biological aerobic technology for industrial waste treatment. Water Science and Technology, 46(4–5), 83–89. Scholar
  45. Rúa-Gómez, P. C., Guedez, A. A., Ania, C. O., & Püttmann, W. (2012). Upgrading of wastewater treatment plants through the use of unconventional treatment technologies: removal of lidocaine, tramadol, venlafaxine and their metabolites. Water, 4(3), 650–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Simstich, B., Beimfohr, C., & Horn, H. (2012). Lab scale experiments using a submerged MBR under thermophilic aerobic conditions for the treatment of paper mill deinking wastewater. Bioresource Technology, 122, 11–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Suvilampi, J., & Rintala, J. (2003). Thermophilic aerobic wastewater treatment, process performance, biomass characteristics, and effluent quality. Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology, 2(1), 35–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ternes, T. A., Prasse, C., Eversloh, C. L., Knopp, G., Cornel, P., Schulte-Oehlmann, U., et al. (2017). Integrated evaluation concept to assess the efficacy of advanced wastewater treatment processes for the elimination of micropollutants and pathogens. Environmental Science & Technology, 51(1), 308–319. Scholar
  49. Todeschini, S. (2016). Hydrologic and environmental impacts of imperviousness in an industrial catchment of northern Italy. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 21(7), 05016013. Scholar
  50. Todeschini, S., Ciaponi, C., & Papiri, S. (2010). Laboratory experiments and numerical modelling of the scouring effects of flushing waves on sediment beds. Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics, 4(3), 365–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Todeschini, S., Papiri, S., & Sconfietti, R. (2011). Impact assessment of urban wet-weather sewer discharges on the Vernavola river (Northern Italy). Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems, 28(3), 209–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Todeschini, S., Papiri, S., & Ciaponi, C. (2012). Performance of stormwater detention tanks for urban drainage systems in northern Italy. Journal of Environmental Management, 101, 33–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. van Loosdrecht, M. C., Nielsen, P. H., Lopez-Vazquez, C. M., & Brdjanovic, D. (Eds.). (2016). Experimental methods in wastewater treatment. IWA Publishing.Google Scholar
  54. Visvanathan, C., Choudhary, M. K., Montalbo, M. T., & Jegatheesan, V. (2007). Landfill leachate treatment using thermophilic membrane bioreactor. Desalination, 204(1–3), 8–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wujcik, W., Rozich, A. F., & Hahn, C. D. (2000). Design and start-up of an advanced thermophilic treatment system for high strength wastewater from a chemical plant. In Presented. St. Louis: WEF/Purdue Industrial Waste Conference.Google Scholar
  56. Yang, F., Bick, A., Shandalov, S., Brenner, A., & Oron, G. (2009). Yield stress and rheological characteristics of activated sludge in an airlift membrane bioreactor. Journal of Membrane Science, 334(1), 83–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yu, L., Peng, D., & Pan, R. (2012). Shifts in nitrification kinetics and microbial community during bioaugmentation of activated sludge with nitrifiers enriched on sludge reject water. BioMed Research International, 2012, 8.Google Scholar
  58. Zheng, M., Liu, Y. C., & Wang, C. W. (2014). Modeling of enhanced denitrification capacity with microbial storage product in MBR systems. Separation and Purification Technology, 126, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Collivignarelli
    • 1
  • A. Abbà
    • 2
  • A. Frattarola
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Manenti
    • 1
  • S. Todeschini
    • 1
  • G. Bertanza
    • 2
  • R. Pedrazzani
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Architectural EngineeringUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Environmental, Architectural Engineering and MathematicsUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical and Industrial EngineeringUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly

Personalised recommendations