Treatment of cheese whey by a cross-flow anaerobic membrane bioreactor: Biological and filtration performance

Recep Kaan Dereli*, Frank P. van der Zee, Izzet Ozturk, Jules B. van Lier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


Whey, produced in large quantities during cheese production, is a rapidly fermentable high strength wastewater characterized by a high biodegradability and low alkalinity. In this study, a lab-scale cross-flow anaerobic membrane bioreactor was used to address the commonly experienced difficulties such as unstable reactor performance and unexpected biomass losses when treating whey wastewater with conventional anaerobic reactors. The anaerobic membrane bioreactor provided a stable treatment performance, i.e. more than 90% chemical oxygen demand removal, and moderate membrane fluxes between 8 and 11 L m−2 h−1 could be obtained, applying a low cross-flow velocity of about 0.5 m s−1. Short term critical flux tests revealed that higher fluxes up to 36 L m−2 h−1 are possible at elevated cross-flow velocities and/or reduced mixed liquor suspended solids concentrations. Sludge filterability indicated by capillary suction time and specific resistance to filtration deteriorated throughout the study. Chemical cleaning efficiency gradually decreased, indicating irreversible membrane fouling during long term operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 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
  • Cheese whey
  • Critical flux
  • Cross-flow velocity
  • Membrane fouling


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