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On-Line Fouling Control for Energy Reduction in Membrane Bioreactors.

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The capacity and number of MBR installations have increased significantly in recent years as the technology continues to evolve and demonstrate its benefits at full scale. Membrane fouling is the most significant challenge faced by this technology and high energy requirement for membrane fouling control remain the main reason why MBR operating costs are higher than those of a conventional activated sludge system.

The goal of this research project was to develop an on-line fouling control algorithm, based on the resistance in series model. This on-line fouling controller carries out a real time analysis of the filtration operating conditions and determines the fouling mechanisms occurring in an MBR installation. With this information, the system can be programmed to implement specific control actions that address the actual fouling mechanism(s). In this way, MBR membrane fouling can be proactively controlled, allowing the system to maximize hydraulic performance and energy efficiency.

This project consisted of two phases: concept development and full scale implementation. During the concept development phase the structure and components of the on-line fouling controller were developed and validated at pilot scale. Later it was implemented at a full scale MBR plant (3 MGD average daily flow capacity).

The results from this study show that the on-line fouling controller can be applied for process control in MBR systems. The on-line fouling controller results indicate that the initial resistance is the main resistance in pilot and full scale MBR systems. Cake resistance is also significant, particularly for full scale systems and peak flow conditions. The introduction of the on-line fouling controller offers significant benefits such as energy savings and fouling mitigation. Additional research is required to further develop the on-line fouling controller to include additional control parameters such as membrane aeration flow rate, backwash flow rate and duration amongst others.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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