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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Sep 1;44(17):6642-8. doi: 10.1021/es100442g.

Characterization of soluble microbial products and their fouling impacts in membrane bioreactors.

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  • 1BIOMATH, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


Membrane bioreactor (MBR) fouling is not only influenced by the soluble microbial products (SMP) concentration but by their characteristics. Experiments of separate producing biomass associated products (BAP) and utilization associated products (UAP) allowed the separation of BAP and UAP effects from sludge water (SW). Thus, filtration of individual SMP components and further characterization becomes possible. Unstirred cell filtration was used to study fouling mechanisms and liquid chromatography--organic carbon detection (LC-OCD) and fluorescence excitation--emission matrix (EEM) were used to characterize the foulant. Generally, the SMP exhibiting characteristics of higher molecular weight, greater hydrophilicity and a more reduced state showed a higher retention percentage. However, the higher retention does not always yield higher fouling effects. The UAP filtration showed the highest specific cake resistance and pore blocking resistance attributed to their higher percentage of low molecular weight molecules, although their retention percentage was lower than the SW and BAP filtration. The UAP produced in the cell proliferation phase appeared to have the highest fouling potential.

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