Comparative evaluation of the sludge characteristics along the height of upflow anaerobic sludge blanket coupled ultrafiltration systems

Hale Ozgun*, Mustafa Evren Ersahin, Zhongbo Zhou, Yu Tao, Henri Spanjers, Jules B. van Lier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


This study provides a comparison of the sludge characteristics along the height of an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor in terms of sludge morphology, activity and stability. The main aim of this study was to identify the best location (i.e. where sludge is of lowest stability and/or highest concentration) in the sludge bed for conveying the sludge from the low temperature UASB reactor to a digester. The sludge profile was investigated by collecting sludge samples along the different heights of the UASB-anaerobic membrane bioreactor treating municipal wastewater. Results showed that total solids and volatile solids concentrations decreased with height, and the highest chemical oxygen demand concentration was observed at the bottom of the reactor. Active biomass remained near inlet of the reactor; whereas, non-active biomass consisted of loose, suspended particles and flocculents moved towards the top. This was confirmed by the high specific COD consumption rate near the inlet and poor specific COD biodegradation in the remaining portions of the bioreactor. Apparently, the assumption of a completely mixed sludge bed behavior for the UASB reactor, being part of an AnMBR system, does not hold for this type of reactor systems even at low temperatures, which makes the location in sludge bed from where the sludge is to be conveyed to the digester of operational importance. Considering the observed sludge bed stratification, the sludge to be recirculated from the UASB reactor to the digester is recommended to be taken from 40 to 50% of the sludge bed height.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Anaerobic membrane bioreactor
  • Microbial community
  • Municipal wastewater
  • Sludge stability
  • Ultrafiltration
  • Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor


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