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Performance of Membrane Biological Reactor for Tobacco Wastewater Treatment

Alhajar, Abdallah Hazim Abdallah
A Master of Science thesis in Chemical Engineering by Abdallah Hazim Abdallah Alhajar entitled, “Performance of Membrane Biological Reactor for Tobacco Wastewater Treatment”, submitted in April 2023. Thesis advisor is Dr. Sameer Al-Asheh and thesis co-advisor is Dr. Ahmed Aidan. Soft copy is available (Thesis, Completion Certificate, Approval Signatures, and AUS Archives Consent Form).
As technologies develop and populations grow, the demand for water sources increases. To keep up with such demand, the need for innovative methods for water regeneration becomes necessary. Amongst these methods is the utilization of Membrane Biological Reactors (MBRs) for wastewater treatment. This work discusses MBR technology for tobacco wastewater treatment and the factors that affect its performance. Currently, tobacco wastewater treatment methods reveal high time requirement, complexity, and cost. The study revealed that MBRs can effectively remove 80-90% of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), 88-94% of Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD5), and 88-91% of total organic carbon (TOC) content from wastewater produced by the tobacco industry while operating at a pH of 6 – 8 with a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 1 day. The process was favorable in treating tobacco wastewater at temperatures ranging between 20 to 40 oC. Additionally, the study revealed that the design is able to treat wastewater with a COD concentration of 2000 ppm given that the HRT is to be increased. Moreover, the design was successful in decreasing the turbidity by 97% and TDS by over 85% even though it incorporates microfiltration. Furthermore, the results showed better membrane performance with a low fouling propensity, which indicates the suitability of ceramic membranes for installment within the system. Finally, the study compared the effect of membrane pore size by observing the difference in performance between 0.1 and 0.3 μm nominal pore sizes. This change in nominal pore size had minimal effect on the performance of the MBR. Overall, the system showed great potential and applicability to be adapted for the treatment of tobacco wastewater.
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