SMP removal profile and morphological assessment of submerged ultrafiltration membrane

Nadir Dizge


Performance of ultrafiltration membranes were investigated with submerged membrane in terms of removal of soluble microbial products (SMP) (as proteins and carbohydrates) and fouling mechanisms. Cellulose (UC) and polyethersulphone (UP) membranes with different moleculer weight cut off (MWCO) characteristics (5, 10, 30 kDa for UC and 5, 10, 20 kDa for UP) were placed in bioreactor. The quality of permeate was compared in terms of SMP, COD, and turbidity.  There was no significant difference in the total SMP removal effectives for both the cellulose (UC) and polyethersulphone (UP) membranes with different MWCO characteristics.  However, UP membranes were relatively more effective in removing soluble carbohydrates, while UC membranes were more effective in removing soluble proteins. The COD concentration of the filtrates from both the UC and UP membranes showed a direct correlation with increasing MWCO.  The submerged membrane bioreactor achieved organic removal efficiencies ranging from 91.6±0.2% to 93.7±0.3% based on the soluble COD levels.  Analysis of the membrane performance data by resistances-in-series model indicated that cake fouling was the dominant membrane fouling mechanisms.  Morphological examination of the membranes by SEM and AFM showed significant accumulation of organisms on the membrane surface.


Activated sludge; ultrafiltration; submerged membrane bioreactor; membrane fouling, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), soluble microbial products (SMP)


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ISSN: 1929-6037