The paper presents the results of a field gathering campaign carried out on two different pilot scale membrane bioreactor (MBR) systems, treating synthetic wastewater subject to a gradual increase of salinity. One was a conventional MBR system, while the other was a moving bed biofilm membrane bioreactor (MB-MBR), which combines suspended biomass and biofilm. Indeed, the presence of suspended carriers inside the bioreactor seems to give benefits due to the collisions between the circulating media and the membrane. The aim of the study was the comparison of two configurations in terms of biomass activity characterization and performance (pollutants removal and hydraulic behaviour). The results highlighted a significant biomass activity for both heterotrophic and autotrophic populations. Such behaviour was emphasized in MB-MBR system, likely due to the presence of biofilm attached on suspended sponge carriers, which is characterized by high retention times, thus improving through the “seeding” effect the nitrification ability of the whole system.
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