The present study aims to investigate the efficiency of integrated effective microorganisms (EM) and membrane bioreactor (MBR) for eliminating pharmaceutical active compounds (PhACs) from urine. Natural urine was separated using a ‘diversion toilet’. The toilet users were under medication with some pharmaceuticals, namely levofloxacine (LEF), ibuprofen (IBP) and atorvastatin (ATV). For correlation, three MBR pilot-scale sequences were examined. In Sequence 1 MBR was used without pre-treatment. In Sequence 2 EM was added as pre-treatment in the mixing tank. The effluent was further treated with MBR. In Sequence 3 EM was added directly to the activated sludge of the MBR. The results showed that Sequence 1 could decrease the PhACs from 10 mg/L to 1.5 mg/L, 0.5 mg/L and 0.9 mg/L for LEF, IBP and ATV, respectively. Sequence 2 exhibited remarkable improvement in PhACs removal. The overall residual concentration reached 0.7, 0.13 and 0.28 mg/L for LEF, IBP and ATV, successively. Applying Sequence 3 gives higher removal efficiency where the residual concentration of LEF, IBP and ATV decreased to 0.50 mg/L, 0.10 mg/L and 0.22 mg/L, respectively. It was concluded that the contaminated urine was efficiently treated by adding EM directly to the activated sludge of the MBR, and the treated urine can be safely used as fertilizer.
- effective microorganisms
- membrane bioreactor
- pharmaceuticals compounds
- safe urine reuse
- urine separation
- First received 2 September 2015.
- Accepted in revised form 27 November 2015.
- © IWA Publishing 2016