Application of a two-phase slug flow in side-stream membrane bioreactors (MBRs) has proven to increase the permeate flux and decrease fouling through a better control of the cake layer. Past literature has shown that the hydrodynamics near the membrane surface have an impact on the degree of fouling by imposing high shear stress near the surface of the membrane. Previously, shear stress histograms (SSH) have been introduced to summarize results from an experimental setup developed to investigate the shear stress imposed on the surface of a membrane under different two-phase flow conditions (gas and liquid) by varying the flow of each phase. Bimodal SSHs were observed, with peaks corresponding to the shear induced by the liquid and gas flow respectively. In this contribution, SSHs are modelled using simple empirical relationships. These are used to identify the two-phase flow conditions that optimize fouling control. Furthermore, the total energy consumption of the system was estimated based on the two-phase pressure drop. It was found that low liquid and high gas flow rates (ratio of approx. 4) balanced the peaks and minimized the energy consumption.
Keywords: energy consumption, gas–liquid slug flow, pressure drop, side-stream membrane bioreactor, wall shear stress