The feasibility of an anaerobic ceramic membrane bioreactor (AnCMBR) was investigated by comparison with a conventional anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR). With regard to treatment performance, the AnCMBR achieved higher organic removal rates than the AnMBR because the ceramic membranes retained a high concentration of biomass in the reactor. Despite a high mixed liquor suspended solid (MLSS) concentration, the AnCMBR exhibited lower membrane fouling. To elucidate effects of sludge properties on membrane fouling in the AnCMBR and AnMBR, soluble microbial products (SMPs) and extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs) were analyzed. The SMP and EPS concentrations in the AnCMBR were higher than in the AnMBR. This may be because some suspended solids bio-degraded and likely released protein-like SMPs in the AnCMBR. Hydrophobicity and surface charges were analyzed; the sludge in the AnCMBR was found to be more hydrophobic and less negative than in the AnMBR because protein was abundant in the AnCMBR. Despite the adverse properties of the sludge in the AnCMBR, it showed more stable filtration performance than the AnMBR. This is because the alumina-based ceramic membrane had a superhydrophilic surface and could thus mitigate membrane fouling by hydrophilic-hydrophobic repulsion. The findings from this study have significant implications for extending the application of AnCMBRs to, for example, treatment of high-strength organic waste such as food waste or livestock manure.
- Alumina-based ceramic membrane
- Anaerobic ceramic membrane bioreactor
- Anaerobic membrane bioreactor
- PVDF polymeric membrane