IWA Publishing

Integrating activated sludge floc size information in MBR fouling modeling


Although studied extensively, modeling fouling phenomena in membrane bioreactors (MBRs) remains challenging. It has been well established that cake layer formation and pore blocking have a strong impact on the filtration performance but how to capture that in comprehensive models is not fully defined yet. Since it has been shown that bioflocculation characteristics of activated sludge have a clear link with (the extent of) membrane fouling, this study integrates activated sludge floc size (i.e., particle size distribution) information in the model for pore blocking and cake layer formation with a focus on constant flux operated MBRs. Based on these floc size distributions, a three-dimensional modeling and visualization of the cake layer is envisaged which can then provide the required input information (e.g., the porosity of the cake layer) for the fouling model. The model is calibrated and validated on the basis of experimental data from Hwang et al. (2012) in ‘Membrane bioreactor: TMP rise and characterization of biocake structure using CLSM-image analysis’ (see J. Membr. Sci. 419–420, 33–41).

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