Towards integrated operation of membrane bioreactors: effects of aeration on biological and filtration performance

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Two experimental studies evaluated the effect of aerobic and membrane aeration changes on sludge properties, biological nutrient removal and filtration processes in a pilot plant membrane bioreactor. The optimal operating conditions were found at an aerobic dissolved oxygen set-point (DO) of 0.5mgO2L-1 and a membrane specific aeration demand (SADm) of 1mh-1, where membrane aeration can be used for nitrification. Under these conditions, a total flow reduction of 42% was achieved (75% energy reduction) without compromising nutrient removal efficiencies, maintaining sludge characteristics and controlled filtration. Below these optimal operating conditions, the nutrient removal efficiency was reduced, increasing 20% for soluble microbial products, 14% for capillarity suction time and reducing a 15% for filterability. Below this DO set-point, fouling increased with a transmembrane pressure 75% higher. SADm below 1mh-1 doubled the values of transmembrane pressure, without recovery after achieving the initial conditions ​
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