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Loading and Stress Effects on Flat Sheet Membrane Bioreactor (FSMBR) Fouling

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The objective of the research was to investigate the effects of inducing loading and bacterial stress conditions on the fouling of membranes. Two laboratory-scale flat sheet membrane bioreactors were operated in parallel to treat a synthetic sugar-based industrial wastewater. One reactor served as the control, while the other served as the experimental reactor. Three stress conditions were employed during the study, including different organic loading rates, high salt concentration, and temperature spikes.

Under the imposed stress conditions, the experimental reactor had a smaller particle size, higher average effluent chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentration, and lower sludge filterability. The experimental reactor fouled at a faster rate than the control reactor. The results showed that imposed stress conditions affect the bacteria in the MBR, and have an impact on sludge characteristics such as filterability, polysaccharide production, floc size, effluent COD concentration, effluent color, and, most importantly, the rate of membrane fouling.
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