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Many contradicting studies have investigated the relative impact of mixed liquor suspended solids and soluble organic compounds on filtration efficiency during the operation of a membrane bioreactor (MBR). In this research, an aerobic pilot-scale MBR was evaluated over an approximately 700 day operational period to address the extent of permeate flux dependency on soluble organic matter. A statistical correlation analysis performed on the obtained data revealed that permeate flux was strongly correlated to soluble organic compounds such as soluble sugars and proteins and was not correlated to total mixed liquor COD which was primarily composed of solids. Organic matter smaller in size than 0.10 μm exhibited the strongest correlation to permeate flux. Specific filtration tests conducted on the MBR showed that the effect of soluble COD was most pronounced in the range of 110-210 mg/L. A critical level of soluble COD was established at approximately 500 mg/L after which point no correlation was observed. The effluent quality remained high throughout the study at below 5 mg/L total COD, indicating that the membrane was able to retain most organic compounds regardless of mixed liquor soluble COD content. It was concluded that MBR permeate fluxes are enhanced when operating at conditions where bio-degradation is improved and soluble organic compounds are reduced.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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