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As a $2.6 billion annual industry, post-harvest fruit and vegetable processing generates a significant fraction of the total revenue of the food manufacturing industry in Ontario. Fruit processing facilities typically require enormous volumes of water for various operations such as growing, cleaning, rinsing, pressing, water conveyance, and so on. Fruit process wastewater is typically characterized as colloidal, with high organics and nutrient concentrations, and therefore require rigorous treatment methods to meet discharge regulations. One of such technique which has proven to be very effective in producing a potable, disinfected and reusable effluent is aerobic membrane bioreactors (aMBR) followed by tertiary reverse-osmosis (RO) filtration. However, persistent challenges plague the operation of these systems with fluctuating wastewater compositions and operational conditions. Such unstable conditions can lead to the fouling of membranes and downstream RO units. Membrane fouling is known to reduce the service life of membranes, raise energy requirements in order to maintain production, and puts limitations on treatment performance. The current study focuses on modifying and optimizing MBR conditions, and determining an ideal microbial consortium, to handle such varying wastewater characteristics. In addition, a lab-scale electrocoagulation unit is being operated and investigated as a post-MBR treatment step in order to assess its capabilities in reducing solids loading and fouling propensity on downstream RO filters.
membrane bioreactor, reverse-osmosis, fruit processing, wastewater, fouling
CSBE/SCGAB 2018 Annual Conference, School of Engineering, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, July 22-25 2018.
Canadian Society for Bioengineering