An inclined plate membrane bioreactor (iPMBR) was introduced to meet the challenge of handling high mixed liquor suspended solids when operating at long sludge retention times. During the first 407 days of operation, the iPMBR was able to rezone more sludge (1.5–10.5 times greater) in its upstream, anoxic tank compared to its downstream, aerobic tank. This could extend membrane filtration by diverting most of the sludge from the aerobic zone. During this period, the upflow velocities through the inclined plates of the anoxic tank ranged from 2.3 × 10−4 to 7.7 × 10−4 m/s. After Day 407, the operating conditions were changed to determine whether the iPMBR would fail to create a sludge concentration difference between its two tanks. When the upflow velocity was increased to 1.8 × 10−3 m/s, the sludge concentration difference between the two zones was removed. This indicated that the upflow velocity had increased sufficiently to overcome the settling velocities of most flocs, resulting in more solids being carried from the anoxic to the aerobic tank. For the configuration of this iPMBR, operating at flow rates where the upflow velocity through the inclined plates was less than 1.0 × 10−3 m/s would be necessary to keep a significant sludge concentration difference between its two zones.
Keywords: inclined plate, membrane bioreactor, municipal wastewater, upflow velocity