Membrane processes for resource recovery from anaerobically digested livestock manure effluent: opportunities and challenges

Zhiye Zhang, Zhicheng Xu, Xiaoye Song, Bangxi Zhang, Guoxue Li, Nazmul Huda, Wenhai Luo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of Review Membrane techniques have been employed to concentrate livestock manure effluent from anaerobic digestion to produce highly concentrated liquid organic fertilizer. This review aims to provide a comprehensive understanding on the opportunities and challenges of membrane processes in the concentration of digested effluent for their further implementation.

Recent Findings Anaerobic digestion has been deployed to convert livestock manure into biogas (energy) and digestate with high potential as biofertilizer. Digestate can be separated into a solid and liquid fraction to reduce required capacity for onsite storage. The liquid fraction, known as digested effluent, remains a vexing challenge to digestate management due to the contradiction between its continuous production and seasonal application to farmlands, particularly in developing countries. Recent investigation has demonstrated the promise of membrane techniques for the concentration of digested effluent to recover recycling water and produce nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer. These techniques mainly include hydraulically driven membrane processes (from microfiltration to reverse osmosis), forward osmosis, membrane distillation, and electrodialysis. In most cases, these membrane techniques are hybridized to enhance the concentration efficiency. Nevertheless, the practical application of these membrane processes is hindered by several technical challenges, which mainly include membrane fouling, contaminant enrichment, ammonia volatilization, and high economic input.

Summary In this paper, we critically reviewed the performance of different membrane processes in the concentration of digested livestock manure effluent. Key technical challenges and their potential countermeasures were elucidated. Furthermore, future perspectives were provided to shed light on further development of membrane concentration techniques in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Pollution Reports
Issue number2
Early online date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Livestock manure
  • Digested effluent
  • Membrane concentration
  • Resource recovery


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