New insight into fouling behavior and foulants accumulation property of cake sludge in a full-scale membrane bioreactor

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Membrane Science, 2016, 510 pp. 10 - 17
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Elsevier B.V.. Cake sludge attached on membrane surfaces was collected and characterized in a full scale membrane bioreactor (MBR) compared with bulk sludge. The morphological, chemical and microbial properties were examined through microscopic observations, particle size distribution (PSD) analysis, chemical analysis, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-diffusive X-ray (EDX) analysis, specific oxygen utilization rate (SOUR) measurements and Biolog assay. The results showed that fiber-like substances might have served as the skeleton of larger size aggregates in cake sludge. Moreover, much more polysaccharides and inorganic elements such as multivalent cations were accumulated in cake sludge than proteins and humics. Cake sludge showed lower microbial activity for aerobic degradation than bulk sludge, but higher metabolic activity for the degradation of refractory substances (aromatic proteins and humics) other than polysaccharides. Based on batch filtration experiments, it was found that cake sludge had much higher cake layer fouling potential but lower membrane pore blocking resistance, probably due to the heterogeneous structure of cake sludge resulting from accumulation and interaction of various inorganic and organic foulants. This investigation could assist in obtaining a better understanding of the fouling behavior and foulants accumulation properties of cake sludge in the full-scale MBRs.
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