Previous research has demonstrated that powdered activated carbon (PAC), when applied at very low dosages and long SRTs, reduces membrane fouling in membrane bioreactors (MBRs). This effect was related to the formation of stronger sludge flocs, which are less sensitive to shear. In this contribution the long-term effect of PAC addition was studied by running two parallel MBRs on sewage. To one of these, PAC was dosed and a lower fouling tendency of the sludge was verified, with a 70% longer sustainable filtration time. Low PAC dosages showed additional advantages with regard to oxygen transfer and dewaterability, which may provide savings on operational costs.
Keywords: filterability, membrane bioreactor, membrane fouling, powdered activated carbon, sludge characteristics