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Energy and chemical efficient nitrogen removal at a full-scale MBR water reuse facility

American Water, 1025 Laurel Oak Road, Voorhees, New Jersey 08043, USA

Special Issues: Leading Edge Technologies in Wastewater Treatment

With stringent wastewater discharge limits on nitrogen and phosphorus, membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology is gaining popularity for advanced wastewater treatment due to higher effluent quality and smaller footprint. However, higher energy intensity required for MBR plants and increased operational costs for nutrient removal limit wide application of the MBR technology. Conventional nitrogen removal requires intensive energy inputs and chemical addition. There are drivers to search for new technology and process control strategies to treat wastewater with lower energy and chemical demand while still producing high quality effluent. The NPXpress is a patented technology developed by American Water engineers. This technology is an ultra-low dissolved oxygen (DO) operation for wastewater treatment and is able to remove nitrogen with less oxygen requirements and reduced supplemental carbon addition in MBR plants. Jefferson Peaks Water Reuse Facility in New Jersey employs MBR technology to treat municipal wastewater and was selected for the implementation of the NPXpress technology. The technology has been proved to consistently produce a high quality reuse effluent while reducing energy consumption and supplemental carbon addition by 59% and 100%, respectively. Lab-scale kinetic studies suggested that NPXpress promoted microorganisms with higher oxygen affinity. Process modelling was used to simulate treatment performance under NPXpress conditions and develop ammonia-based aeration control strategy. The application of the ammonia-based aeration control at the plant further reduced energy consumption by additional 9% and improved treatment performance with 35% reduction in effluent total nitrogen. The overall energy savings for Jefferson Peaks was $210,000 in four years since the implementation of NPXpress. This study provided an insight in design and operation of MBR plants with NPXpress technology and ultra-low DO operations.
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