The birth of the Modular UASB


Severn Trent Water (STW) is working with the University of Cranfield to test the anaerobic treatment of municipal waste water. This collaboration consists of merging technologies compatible with a low energy, circular economy approach which will be evaluated at STW’s Urban Strategy Demonstration Site Spernal Waste Water Treatment Plant, located in Redditch (UK). 

A multi-stream test site is being built as a pilot plant incorporating an Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR) which consists of an Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) and submerged ultrafiltration (UF) membranes. A membrane degassing unit will recover the dissolved methane which is produced from this process. 

In comparison with conventional aerobic treatment, AnMBR combines several benefits: there is no need for aeration energy to remove Chemical and Biological Oxygen Demand (COD/BOD), low levels of sludge production, biogas production to generate heat and electricity, and effluent water free of pathogens plus solids which can be reused – for example in agriculture and industry. 

Waterleau is providing the anaerobic treatment part of this plant, which consists of a new design of an easily transportable modular UASB system. The development of these new UASB modules in collaboration with Vink resulted in the use of glass-reinforced plastic and polypropylene components to minimise the risk of corrosion. These sit in a coated steel container structure built by Deckers Staalbouw so they are robust and easy to transport. 

The anaerobic treatment of municipal waste water is a challenge because of the low COD concentration and low water temperature. Close monitoring and data collection will teach us a lot about this new area of application. The ‘brains’ of the plant are situated in a service container unit, where all the equipment and instrumentation are located. Besides the usual pH and temperature sensors, this plant also has inline Volatile Fatty Acid (VFA) and turbidity monitoring. 

The effluent from our UASB reactor will be filtered within the submerged UF unit. In order to optimise biomass retention, the anaerobic sludge will be returned to the UASB reactor. Observing this interesting setup could provide new insights in the field.  

The installation will treat an average of 200 m³ of municipal waste water each day, with a maximum treatment capacity of 500 m³/day for 72h. This means ±188 kg COD/day will be removed. At the Deckers Staalbouw production facility in Sittard (NL) the modular UASB was assembled and undergone a series of tests. Once this testing phase was completed, the modular UASB was transported to the Spernal WWTP where it is currently being installed and set up for operation. 

Get SmartLab ready with Waterleau

In many ways, Waterleau’s ingenuity is a game changer in the industry. With an innovative new application for our UASB technology and a completely new way of constructing the reactor, we built an intelligent plant ready for the Waterleau SmartLab era. 

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