Extractive membrane bioreactor to detoxify industrial/hazardous landfill leachate and facilitate resource recovery


Landfill leachate is a highly polluted and toxic waste stream harmful to the environment and human health, its biological treatment, even if challenging, offers the opportunity of recovering valuable resources. In this study, we propose the application of an extractive membrane bioreactor equipped with a polymeric tubing, made of Hytrel, as an innovative device able to remove specific organic toxic compounds of the leachate and, at the same time, to produce an effluent rich in valuable chemicals suitable for recovery. The leachate treatment consists in a two-step process: the extraction of specific toxic compounds through the polymeric tubing based on the affinity with the polymer, and their subsequent biodegradation in controlled conditions in the bulk phase of the extractive membrane bioreactor, thus avoiding the direct contact of the microbial consortium with the toxic leachate. Three synthetic streams simulating leachates produced by landfills of typical industrial/hazardous waste, mixed municipal and industrial solid waste, and oil shale industry waste, whose toxic fraction is mainly constituted by phenolic compounds, have been tested. Successful performance was achieved in all the tested conditions, with high removal (≥98%) and biodegradation efficiencies (89-95%) of the toxic compounds. No mass transfer limitations across the tubing occurred during the operation and a marginal accumulation (in the range of 4-7%) into the polymer has been observed. Furthermore, volatile fatty acids and inorganic compounds contained in the leachates were fully recovered in the treated effluent. Feasibility study confirmed the applicability of the proposed bioreactor as a powerful technology able to achieve high toxic removal efficiency in leachate treatment and facilitate resource recovery.

Authors: Domenica Mosca Angelucci, Enrica Donati, M Concetta Tomei
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2021 Oct 12;150892. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150892.