Effects of COD/N ratio on soluble microbial products in effluent from sequencing batch reactors and subsequent membrane fouling

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Water Research, 2018, 134 pp. 13 - 21
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The relative ratios of chemical oxygen demand (COD) to nitrogen (N) in wastewater are known to have profound effects on the characteristics of soluble microbial products (SMP) from activated sludge. In this study, the changes in the SMP characteristics upon different COD/N ratios and the subsequent effects on ultrafiltration (UF) membrane fouling potentials were examined in sequencing batch reactors (SBR) using excitation emission matrix-parallel factor analysis (EEM-PARAFAC) and size exclusion chromatography (SEC). Three unique fluorescent components were identified from the SMP samples in the bioreactors operated at the COD/N ratios of 100/10 (N rich), 100/5 (N medium), and 100/2 (N deficient). The tryptophan-like component (C1) was the most depleted at the N medium condition. Fulvic-like (C2) and humic-like (C3) components were more abundant with N rich wastewater. Greater abundances of large size biopolymer (BP) and low molecular weight neutrals (LMWN) were found under the N deficient and N rich conditions, respectively. SMPs from various COD/N exhibited a greater degree on membrane fouling following the order of 100/2 > 100/10 > 100/5. C1 and C2 had close associations with reversible and irreversible fouling, respectively, while the reversible fouling potential of C3 depended on the COD/N ratios. No significant impact of COD/N ratio was observed on the relative contributions of SMP size fractions to either reversible or irreversible fouling potential. However, the COD/N ratios likely altered the BP foulants' composition with greater contribution of proteinaceous substances to reversible fouling under the N deficient condition than at other N richer conditions. The opposite trend was observed for irreversible fouling. Our results provided further insight into changes in different SMP constitutes and their membrane fouling in response to microbial activities under different COD/N ratios.
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