Two parallel membrane bioreactors (2m³ each) were operated over a period of 2 years. Both pilots were optimised for nitrification, denitrification, and enhanced biological phosphorous elimination, treating identical municipal waste water under comparable operating conditions. The only constructional difference between the pilots was the position of the denitrification zone (pre-denitrification in pilot 1 and post-denitrification in pilot 2). Despite identical modules and conditions, the two MBRs showed different permeabilities and fouling rates. The differences were not related to the denitrification scheme. In order to find an explanation for the different membrane performances, a one-year investigation was initiated and the membrane performance as well as the operating regime and characteristics of the activated sludge were closely studied. MLSS concentrations, solid retention time, loading rates, and filtration flux were found not to be responsible for the different performance of the submerged modules. These parameters were kept identical in the two pilot plants. Instead, the non-settable fraction of the sludges (soluble and colloidal material, i.e. polysaccharides, proteins and organic colloids) was found to impact fouling and to cause the difference in membrane performance between the two MBR. This fraction was analysed by spectrophotometric and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) methods. In a second step, the origin of these substances was investigated. The results point to microbiologically produced substances such as extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) or soluble microbial product.


At the Ruhleben wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) two membrane bioreactor (MBR) pilot plants have been operated since September 2001 by Veolia Water and Berliner Wasserbetriebe. The primary aim of the piloting is the investigation of biological phosphorus removal in conjunction with nitrification/denitrification in MBRs for later use in remote areas and small scale applications (WWTP serving a few thousand inhabitants) [Gnirss et al 2003a]. Both plants are fed with the same raw wastewater as it is treated in the conventional wastewater treatment plant. Instead of the mechanical treatment of the conventional plant, the raw wastewater passes a 1 mm punch hole screen prior to the biological treatment in the two MBR pilot plants. The two pilot plants are operated under parallel operating conditions (same raw wastewater, same sludge age and sludge concentration , etc.), but there are two different biological process configurations: pre-denitrification and postdenitrification without addition of a carbon source. Over the first year of operation, it has been observed that the unit with post-denitrification exhibited more rapid membrane fouling than the one with pre-denitrification. Preliminary LC-OCD (liquid chromatography-organic carbon detection) measurements carried out with the permeate compared to paper filtered sludge showed differences between the two units regarding the concentration of colloids and large macromolecules (as measured in the polysaccharide peak). Hence, an assessment and investigation of the fouling behaviour of the two MBR pilot plants was commenced. The results are presented in this report.

Rosenberger, S. , Lesjean, B. , Laabs, C. , Jekel, M. , Gnirß, R. (2003): Zusammenhang zwischen Membranfouling und gelösten Substanzen in Membranbelebungsreaktoren.

p 14 In: 5. Aachener Tagung, Siedlungswasserwirtschaft und Verfahrentechnik.. Aaachen, Germany. 30.09.-01.10.2003


Veolia Water und die Berliner Wasserbetriebe betreiben im Klärwerk Berlin-Ruhleben zwei Membranbelebungsanlagen zur biologischen Phosphor- und Stickstoffelimination, die mit dem gleichen Abwasser belastet werden. Die zwei parallelen Pilotanlagen werden mit identischen Betriebsbedingungen aber unterschiedlicher Anordnung der anoxen Zone gefahren. Im Betrieb der Anlagen kann trotz identischen Betriebsbedingungen stets ein Unterschied im Fouling-verhalten zwischen beiden Pilotanlagen und über die Zeit beobachtet werden. Aus zwei Jahren Betriebserfahrung mit den beiden Pilotanlagen wurde deutlich, dass die Unterschiede nicht auf Trockensubstanzkonzentration oder Schlammalter sondern vorwiegend auf andere Parameter, wie z.B. den eingestellten Permeatflux, zurückzuführen sind. Neben den im belebten Schlamm enthaltenen Feststoffen können im biologischen Prozess produzierte Kolloide und gelöste Substanzen die Filtrations-leistungen von Membranen beeinflussen. Da die Feststoffkonzentration beider Anlagen weitestgehend identisch ist, werden im Rahmen dieses Projektes vor allem Kolloide und gelöste Substanzen in der Klarphase des belebten Schlammes untersucht und mit der Foulingrate der eingesetzten Module verglichen. Die vorgestellten Untersuchungen sind Teil eines umfassenden Projektes von Anjou Recherche zum Foulingverhalten von Membranen in Membranbelebungsreaktoren.

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