Author(s): Mass A, Sprandio M, Cabassud C
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Abstract This work aims to compare biomass structure and performance of a submerged membrane bioreactor (SMBR) and an activated sludge process (ASP) treating the same domestic wastewater. The influence of the separation technique (membrane filtration or settling) and operation at high sludge-retention time (SRT) were investigated. Over the entire range of SRT (10-110 days), the SMBR achieved very good organic removal efficiencies, ranging from 90.8+/-0.2\% to 94.2+/-1.6\% based on total COD (TCOD), whereas those of ASP were between 87.4+/-1.8\% and 90.3+/-0.8\%. The contribution of the membrane in the increase in performance was due to total suspended solid retention and also partly due to retention of proteins and polysaccharides of the sludge supernatant. No significant difference in excess sludge production was observed between the two processes operated at the same SRT, but sludge production in SMBR decreased from 0.31 to 0.13 g(VSS)g(COD)(-1) as SRT increased from 9 to 110 days. The difference in sludge characteristics and performance was especially pronounced as SRT increased, resulting in deterioration of sludge settleability and effluent quality of the ASP (filamentous bacteria, increase of protein and polysaccharide release). Membrane filtration induced accumulation of soluble and colloidal proteins and polysaccharides which were progressively degraded in the supernatant as the SRT increased. At similar SRT, no significant difference was observed in the amount of extractable exocellular polymeric substances (bound EPS) from ASP and SMBR sludge. However as the SRT increased, the total specific amount of bound EPS in flocs decreased and the ratio proteins/polysaccharides also decreased. Concomitantly, laser diffraction analysis, microscopic observations, turbidity and DSVI measurement showed that the SRT increase induced significant modifications in sludge morphology in SMBR: decrease in floc size, densification of aggregates, and development of non-flocculating organisms.
This article was published in Water Res
and referenced in Journal of Microbial & Biochemical Technology