Fouling is a major challenge for the economic feasibility and applicability of membrane bioreactors. Several strategies have been proposed for fouling control, and among them, addition of flux enhancers (FE) have shown promising results. Previous research revealed a high variability of the required optimal dosage of FE for different types of sludge; however, studies analysing the causes for such variability are lacking. Therefore, this research examines the effect of sludge characteristics on the optimal FE dosage required for sludge filterability improvement (Dopt). We applied the cationic polymer Adifloc KD451 as FE, and determined Dopt with short-term cross-flow filtration tests. Sludge samples were obtained from five different pilot and full-scale anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) treating municipal or industrial wastewater. Results showed that Dopt was significantly correlated with colloidal organic matter concentration, sludge filterability, capillary suction time, and concentration of soluble polysaccharides. Furthermore, we derived empirical models to predict Dopt based on the significantly correlated sludge characteristics as input variables. This research identifies the factors affecting the required dosage of FE for different sludges and provides guidelines for safe continuous dosing of FE in AnMBR for fouling control.
- Anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR)
- Cationic polymer
- Membrane fouling
- Optimal dosage
- Sludge filterability