IWA Publishing

Application of powdered activated carbon (PAC) for membrane fouling control in a pilot-scale MBR system

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Membrane fouling is considered to be the most serious drawback in wastewater treatment when using membrane bioreactors (MBRs), leading to membrane permeability decrease and efficiency deterioration. This work aims to develop an integrated methodology for membrane fouling control, using powdered activated carbon (PAC), which will enhance the adsorption of soluble microbial products (SMP) and improve membrane filterability, by altering the mixed liquor's characteristics. Reversible fouling was assessed in terms of sludge filterability measurements, according to the standard time-to-filter (TTF) method, while irreversible fouling was assessed in terms of SMP removal. Results showed that the addition of PAC at the concentration of 3 g/L in the mixed liquor reduced SMP concentration and enhanced substantially the sludge filterability. Furthermore, the TTFPAC/TTFno PAC ratios were lower, than the corresponding SMPPAC./SMPno PAC ratios, indicating that the batch-mode, short-term addition of PAC promotes the reversible, rather than the irreversible fouling mitigation.

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