Pollutant removal and membrane fouling in an anaerobic submerged membrane bioreactor for real sewage treatment

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Real sewage was continuously treated by a laboratory-scale anaerobic submerged membrane bioreactor (AnSMBR) for over 160 days. Results showed that around 90% of chemical oxygen demand, and 99% of turbidity and total suspended solids in the sewage could be removed by the AnSMBR system. Membrane flux sustained at 11 L/(m2 h) was realized with biogas sparging. Small flocs from sludge deflocculation in the early operational period caused a high membrane fouling rate, and the high specific filtration resistance of the cake layer appeared mostly attributable to the osmotic pressure effect. The performance results were also compared with those in the literature for upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactors and aerobic membrane bioreactors for sewage treatment, demonstrating that AnSMBR could provide a desirable alternative for sewage treatment.

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