Fouling mitigation by cationic polymer addition into a pilot‐scale anaerobic membrane bioreactor fed with blackwater

Magela Odriozola, Nicolás Morales , Jose R. Vazquez-Padin, Maria Lousada-Ferreira, Henri Spanjers, Jules B. van Lier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Cationic polymers have proven to be suitable flux enhancers (FEs) in large‐scale aerobic membrane bioreactors (MBRs), whereas in anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) research is scarce, and so far, only done at lab‐scale. Results from MBRs cannot be directly translated to AnMBRs because the extent and nature of membrane fouling under anaerobic and aerobic conditions are different. Our research focused on the long‐term effect of dosing the cationic polymer Adifloc KD451 to a pilot AnMBR, fed with source‐separated domestic blackwater. A single dosage of Adifloc KD451 at 50 mg L−1 significantly enhanced the filtration performance in the AnMBR, revealed by a decrease in both fouling rate and total filtration resistance. Nevertheless, FE addition had an immediate negative effect on the specific methanogenic activity (SMA), but this was a reversible process that had no adverse effect on permeate quality or chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal in the AnMBR. Moreover, the FE had a long‐term positive effect on AnMBR filtration performance and sludge filterability. These findings indicate that dosing Adifloc KD451 is a suitable strategy for fouling mitigation in AnMBRs because it led to a long‐term improvement in filtration performance, while having no significant adverse effects on permeate quality or COD removal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2383
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR)
  • Cationic polymer
  • Flux enhancer
  • Membrane fouling
  • Pilot plant
  • Sludge filterability


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