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Water Res. 2013 Jul 1;47(11):3762-72. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.04.042. Epub 2013 May 2.

Hydrodynamic effects of air sparging on hollow fiber membranes in a bubble column reactor.

Author information

1
Singapore Membrane Technology Centre, Singapore, Singapore. XIAL0002@e.ntu.edu.sg

Abstract

Air sparging is now a standard approach to reduce concentration polarization and fouling of membrane modules in membrane bioreactors (MBRs). The hydrodynamic shear stresses, bubble-induced turbulence and cross flows scour the membrane surfaces and help reduce the deposit of foulants onto the membrane surface. However, the detailed quantitative knowledge on the effect of air sparging remains lacking in the literature due to the complex hydrodynamics generated by the gas-liquid flows. To date, there is no valid model that describes the relationship between the membrane fouling performance and the flow hydrodynamics. The present study aims to examine the impact of hydrodynamics induced by air sparging on the membrane fouling mitigation in a quantitative manner. A modelled hollow fiber module was placed in a cylindrical bubble column reactor at different axial heights with the trans-membrane pressure (TMP) monitored under constant flux conditions. The configuration of bubble column without the membrane module immersed was identical to that studied by Gan et al. (2011) using Phase Doppler Anemometry (PDA), to ensure a good quantitative understanding of turbulent flow conditions along the column height. The experimental results showed that the meandering flow regime which exhibits high flow instability at the 0.3 m is more beneficial to fouling alleviation compared with the steady flow circulation regime at the 0.6 m. The filtration tests also confirmed the existence of an optimal superficial air velocity beyond which a further increase is of no significant benefit on the membrane fouling reduction. In addition, the alternate aeration provided by two air stones mounted at the opposite end of the diameter of the bubble column was also studied to investigate the associated flow dynamics and its influence on the membrane filtration performance. It was found that with a proper switching interval and membrane module orientation, the membrane fouling can be effectively controlled with even smaller superficial air velocity than the optimal value provided by a single air stone. Finally, the testing results with both inorganic and organic feeds showed that the solid particle composition and particle size distribution all contribute to the cake formation in a membrane filtration system.

PMID:
23726713
DOI:
10.1016/j.watres.2013.04.042
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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