AQWATEC opens onsite MBR wastewater reuse plant

The Colorado School of Mines (CSM) Advanced Water Treatment Center (AQWATEC) has opened a pilot-scale wastewater reuse facility in February 2009 on the US school’s campus in Golden.

This facility significantly enhances the centre’s research into onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment, water reclamation, and sustainable sanitation concepts. It is a result of a partnership between AQWATEC, the school’s Small Flows Program and Aqua-Aerobic Systems Inc of Rockford, Illinois.

AQWATEC officials envision the system will provide not only a showcase project for innovative decentralized treatment system at CSM, but also a seed for additional demonstration-scale research in the area of energy efficient sanitation concepts and local water reuse schemes.

Aqua-Aerobic has developed a new hybrid system using sequencing batch reactors coupled with membrane bioreactors for decentralized applications and approached AQWATEC to test their first system under field conditions.

During 2008, CSM researchers identified and established a new site to test this system. Currently, the system is treating almost the entire wastewater flow generated by the Mines Park student housing community, about 400 apartments, and provides a water quality that is suitable for direct discharge as well as non-potable reuse.

The main objective of the current study is to assess the performance of the full-scale demonstration system. Primary work focuses optimizing the process for biological nutrient removal (BNR), membrane operation and recycle rates for constant and diurnal flow patterns. The system is challenged under a variety of weather and operating conditions while considering the potential for beneficial reuse.

The full-scale 6-12 gpm (22-45 L/min) demonstration system consists of two alternating side-by-side trains, with only one train receiving wastewater at a time. Study of the full scale system is complimented by the operation of a pilot scale 10-15 gph (38-57 L/h) conventional MBR system, which uses the same but shorter Puron hollow fiber membrane made by Koch Membrane Systems and can be modified as needed to compare unit operations and processes between treatment schemes.