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Development of a novel process to mitigate membrane fouling in a continuous sludge system by seeding aerobic granules at pilot plant

Sajjad, Muhammad, Kim, In S., Kim, Kwang Soo
Journal of membrane science 2016 v.497 pp. 90-98
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, artificial membranes, bioreactors, cleaning, fouling, granules, particle size, sludge, sowing
The main goal of the current studies was to cultivate granular sludge in a continuous flow membrane bioreactor (CFMBR) to enhance the membrane performance in a pilot-scale reactor. In this regard, CFMBR was operated in two stages for 220 days; stage 1 was run without the addition of aerobic granules, while in stage 2, the aerobic granules synthesized (after a period of regulations) in a granular sludge sequencing batch reactor were seeded in the reactor. The results showed that the particle size in stage 2 was increased to nearly 625µm and SVI5 decreased to 45mL/g from that of 200µm and 145mL/g, respectively, during stage 1. The membrane fouling noted in terms of increase in transmembrane pressure values in CFMBR stage 2 was approximately 8 times lower than that of stage 1 of operation. Membrane cleaning was a regular phenomenon in stage 1, whereas no cleaning was needed during stage 2. The physicochemical analysis showed that a high PN/PS ratio (3.30) of the EPS, approximately 4-fold low soluble microbial products, a high particle size and sludge settleability were the main factors in mitigating this membrane fouling. The characterization of membrane foulants was done using FTIR spectroscopic technique.