Wastewater preconcentration to capture abundant organics is promising for facilitating subsequent anaerobic digestion (AD) to recover bioenergy, however research efforts are still needed to verify the effectiveness of such an emerging strategy as carbon capture plus AD. Therefore, lab-scale anaerobic dynamic membrane bioreactors (AnDMBRs) without and with the addition of zero-valent iron (ZVI) (i.e., AnDMBR1 versus AnDMBR2) were developed for preconcentrated domestic wastewater (PDW) treatment, and the impact of ZVI addition on process performance and associated mechanisms were investigated. The stepwise addition of ZVI from 2 to 4 to 6 g/L improved the treatment performance as COD removal slightly increased and TP removal and methane production were enhanced by 53.3%–62.9% and 22.6%–31.3%, respectively, in consecutive operational phases. However, the average increasing rate of the transmembrane pressure (TMP) in AnDMBR2 (0.18 kPa/d) was obviously higher than that in AnDMBR1 (0.05 kPa/d), indicating an unfavorable impact of dosing ZVI on the dynamic membrane (DM) filtration performance. ZVI that has transformed to iron ions (mainly Fe2+) can behave as a coagulant, electron donor or inorganic foulant, thus enabling the excellent removal of dissolved phosphorous, enhancing the enrichment and activities of specific methanogens and causing the formation of a compact DM layer. Morphological, componential, and microbial community analyses provided new insights into the functional mechanisms of ZVI added to membrane-assisted anaerobic digesters, indicating that ZVI has the potential to improve bioenergy production and resource recovery, while optimizing the ZVI dosage should be considered to alleviate membrane fouling.
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