Advanced near-zero waste treatment of food processing wastewater with water, carbon, and nutrient recovery

Amit Dan Grossman, Yonas Zeslase Belete, Sammy Boussiba, Uri Yogev, Clemens Posten, Franziska Ortiz Tena, Laurenz Thomsen, Song Wang, Amit Gross, Stefan Leu, Roy Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A near-zero waste treatment system for food processing wastewater was developed and studied. The wastewater was treated using an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR), polished using an outdoor photobioreactor for microalgae cultivation (three species were studied), and excess sludge was treated using hydrothermal carbonization. The study was conducted under arid climate conditions for one year (four seasons). The AnMBR reduced the total organic carbon by 97%, which was mostly recovered as methane (~57%) and hydrochar (~4%). Microalgal biomass productivity in the AnMBR effluent ranged from 0.25 to 0.8 g·L−1·day−1. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) uptake varied seasonally, from 18 to 45 mg·L−1·day−1 and up to 5 mg·L−1·day−1, respectively. N and P mass balance analysis demonstrated that the process was highly efficient in the recovery of nitrogen (~77%), and phosphorus (~91%). The performance of the microalgal culture changed among seasons because of climatic variation, as a result of variation in the wastewater chemistry, and possibly due to differences among the microalgal species. Effluent standards for irrigation use were met throughout the year and were achieved within two days in summer and 4.5 days in winter. Overall, the study demonstrated a near-zero waste discharge system capable of producing high-quality effluent, achieving nutrient and carbon recovery into microalgae biomass, and energy production as biogas and hydrochar.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146373
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 20 Jul 2021


  • Anaerobic membrane bioreactor
  • Food industry wastewater
  • Hydrothermal carbonization
  • Microalgae cultivation
  • Nutrient recovery
  • Outdoor photobioreactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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