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Fouling in membrane bioreactors: An updated review

Meng, Fangang, Zhang, Shaoqing, Oh, Yoontaek, Zhou, Zhongbo, Shin, Hang-Sik, Chae, So-Ryong
Water research 2017 v.114 pp. 151-180
aeration, bioreactors, cleaning, electrical treatment, energy, fouling, systematic review, wastewater treatment
The goal of the current article is to update new findings in membrane fouling and emerging fouling mitigation strategies reported in recent years (post 2010) as a follow-up to our previous review published in Water Research (2009). According to a systematic review of the literature, membrane bioreactors (MBRs) are still actively investigated in the field of wastewater treatment. Notably, membrane fouling remains the most challenging issue in MBR operation and attracts considerable attention in MBR studies. In this review, we summarized the updated information on foulants composition and characteristics in MBRs, which greatly improves our understanding of fouling mechanisms. Furthermore, the emerging fouling control strategies (e.g., mechanically assisted aeration scouring, in-situ chemical cleaning, enzymatic and bacterial degradation of foulants, electrically assisted fouling mitigation, and nanomaterial-based membranes) are comprehensively reviewed. As a result, it is found that the fundamental understanding of dynamic changes in membrane foulants during a long-term operation is essential for the development and implementation of fouling control methods. Recently developed strategies for membrane fouling control denoted that the improvement of membrane performance is not our ultimate and only goal, less energy consumption and more green/sustainable fouling control ways are more promising to be developed and thus applied in the future. Overall, such a literature review not only demonstrates current challenges and research needs for scientists working in the area of MBR technologies, but also can provide more useful recommendations for industrial communities based on the related application cases.