Membrane bioreactors are a well-established technology for wastewater treatment. However, their efficiency is adversely impacted by membrane fouling, primarily inciting very conservative operations of installations that makes them less appealing from an economic perspective. This fouling propensity of the activated sludge is closely related to system disturbances. Therefore, improved insight into the impact of fouling is crucial towards increased membrane performance. In this work, the disturbance of a salt shock was investigated with respect to sludge composition and filterability in two parallel lab-scale membrane bioreactors. Several key sludge parameters (soluble microbial products, sludge-bound extracellular polymeric substances, supramicron particle size distributions (PSD), submicron particle concentrations) were intensively monitored prior to, during, and after a disturbance to investigate its impact as well as the potential governing mechanism. Upon salt addition, the supramicron PSD immediately shifted to smaller floc sizes, and the total fouling rate increased. Following a certain delay, an increase in submicron particles, supernatant proteins, and polysaccharides was observed as well as an increase in the irreversible membrane fouling rate. Recovery from the disturbance was evidenced with a simultaneous decrease in the above mentioned quantities. A similar experiment introducing powdered activated carbon (PAC) addition used for remediation resulted in either no or less significant changes in the above mentioned quantities, signifying its potential as a mitigation strategy. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- waste-water treatment
- high salinity