Use of flocculants for increasing permeate flux in anaerobic membrane bioreactors

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Biomass retention, required for high rate anaerobic wastewater treatment, can be accomplished coupling an anaerobic bioreactor with membrane filtration. However, low flux seems to be a common factor when operating anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs). Modification of biomass properties may represent a strategy for improving membrane flux. The addition of flocculants was tested as a tool for flux increase. Six different products were tested in dead-end filtration experiments. Based on the results, two products were selected for cross-flow tests. The one presenting better performance (Nalco MPE50) was tested in a laboratory-scale continuous AnMBR. Results show that the flocculant was able to substantially increase flux. Indeed, the flux-increasing effect was observed for several weeks after flocculant addition. Therefore, the use of flocculants seems to be an interesting tool to cope with temporary increases in required flux.

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