A comparative study on nitric oxide and hypochlorite as a membrane cleaning agent to minimise biofilm growth in a membrane bioreactor (MBR) process

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Journal Article
Biochemical Engineering Journal, 2019, 148 pp. 9 - 15
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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Reverse osmosis concentrates (ROC) produced from water reclamation plants can threaten the environment if it is not appropriately treated before discharge. A membrane bioreactor (MBR) process to treat ROC was used in this project. In an MBR, fouling is an essential and inevitable phenomenon which leads to higher operational and capital costs. A comparative study on chemical cleaning, such as sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and nitric oxide (NO), was experimentally evaluated together with the influence of filtration flux. Exposure to a low concentration of NO reduced biofilms in an MBR system. NO treatment delayed the formation of new biofilm biomass on the membrane. NO also showed good performance in reducing membrane fouling and had no adverse effect on activated sludge and the environment. In MBR, the bacterial community was dominated by Proteobacteria (61%), with Alpha and Beta-proteobacteria representing approximately 54% of the community. After NO treatment, the relative abundance of the Proteobacteria decreased to 44%, and this was also reflected in a reduction in Alpha and Beta-proteobacteria, to 30% and 5% respectively. Thus, NO treatment resulted in the decrease of the relative biofilms associated with reduced MBR performance.
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