This paper deals with the performance and the optimisation of the hydraulic operating conditions of the A3 Water Solutions flat sheet membrane technology in a MBR pilot-plant to achieve a satisfying fouling control and also a reduction in the required aeration. Two vertically stacked modules were tested at pilot-scale at Anjou Recherche under typical biological operating conditions (mixed liquor suspended solids concentration (MLSS) =10 g/l; sludge retention time (SRT) =28 days; food to microorganism ratio (F/M)=0.12 kg COD/kg MLSS/d). The use of a double-deck and of specific backwashes for this membrane technology enabled to achieve satisfying membrane performances for a net flux of 25 L h−1 m−2, 20°C at a low specific aeration demand per membrane surface (SADm = 0.2 Nm3 h−1 m−2) which corresponds to a specific aeration demand per permeate volume unit (SADp) of 8 Nm3 air/m3 permeate, which is lower than reported for many commercial membrane systems. The mixed liquor characteristics (foaming, MLSS concentration) appeared to influence the fouling behaviour of the membranes but no correlation was found with the fouling rate. However, with the new operating conditions, the system is robust and can cope with fouling resulting from biological stress and daily peak flows for MLSS concentrations in the membrane tank up to 18 g/l.
Keywords: backwash, double-deck, flat sheet membrane, membrane bioreactor