Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 1061–1071 | Cite as

Membrane scouring to control fouling under fluidization of non-adsorbing media for wastewater treatment

  • Muhammad Aslam
  • Amine Charfi
  • Jeonghwan KimEmail author
Water Industry: Water-Energy-Health Nexus


Gas sparging is used as a traditional way to control membrane fouling in submerged membrane bioreactors (MBRs) in wastewater treatment. However, the gas sparging accounts for the largest fraction in operational cost to run the MBR systems. In this study, membrane fouling was controlled by integrating scouring media with gas sparging to reduce fouling rate at relatively low operational energy. Comparative study was performed using a fluidized membrane reactor treating synthetic feed solutions between polyethylene terephthalate (PET) scouring media (SM) fluidized by gas sparging (GS), liquid recirculation (LR), and combination of them to control membrane fouling. Addition of PET scouring media reduced the gas flow rate by 67% more with 30% less in fouling rate than gas sparing only. Combined usage of gas sparging and liquid recirculation to fluidize the PET scouring media (LR + GS + SM) showed 37% lower in fouling rate than that obtained by the scouring media fluidized by liquid recirculation (LR + SM) only through the reactor. The LR + GS + SM configuration reduced energy consumption by 90% more than that required by gas sparging alone. Mechanical cleaning driven by fluidizing PET scouring media could reduce membrane fouling due to removing deposit of inorganic particles from membrane surface effectively. However, the PET scouring media was not very effective to reduce membrane fouling caused by organic colloids which are expected to contribute pore fouling significantly.


Membrane bioreactor Membrane fouling Energy consumption Fluidized media Mechanical membrane scouring 



This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2014R1A1A2057877). This research was supported by Korea Research Fellowship program funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015H1D3A1059895).


  1. Ahmad R, Ahmad Z, Khan AU, Mastoi NR, Aslam M, Kim J (2016) Photocatalytic systems as an advanced environmental remediation: recent developments, limitations and new avenues for applications. J Environ Chem Eng 4:4143–4164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alresheedi MT, Basu OD (2014) Support media impacts on humic acid, cellulose, and kaolin clay in reducing fouling in a submerged hollow fiber membrane system. J Membr Sci 450:282–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aslam M, Charfi A, Lesage G, Heran M, Kim J (2017) Membrane bioreactors for wastewater treatment: a review of mechanical cleaning by scouring agents to control membrane fouling. Chem Eng J 307:897–913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aslam M, Lee P-H, Kim J (2015) Analysis of membrane fouling with porous membrane filters by microbial suspensions for autotrophic nitrogen transformations. Sep Purif Technol 146:284–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aslam M, McCarty PL, Bae J, Kim J (2014) The effect of fluidized media characteristics on membrane fouling and energy consumption in anaerobic fluidized membrane bioreactors. Sep Purif Technol 132:10–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aslan M, Saatçi Y, Hanay Ö, Hasar H (2014) Effect of biogas sparging with different membrane modules on membrane fouling in anaerobic submerged membrane bioreactor (AnSMBR). Environ Sci Pollut Res 21:3285–3293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braak E, Alliet M, Schetrite S, Albasi C (2011) Aeration and hydrodynamics in submerged membrane bioreactors. J Membr Sci 379:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Charfi A, Aslam M, Lesage G, Heran M, Kim J (2017) Macroscopic approach to develop fouling model under GAC fluidization in anaerobic fluidized bed membrane bioreactor. J Ind Eng Chem. doi: 10.1016/j.jiec.2017.01.030
  9. Charfi A, Amar NB, Harmand J (2012) Analysis of fouling mechanisms in anaerobic membrane bioreactors. Water Res 46:2637–2650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De la Casa EJ, Guadix A, Ibáñez R, Guadix EM (2007) Influence of pH and salt concentration on the cross-flow microfiltration of BSA through a ceramic membrane. Biochem Eng J 33:110–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Díaz O, Vera L, González E, García E, Rodríguez-Sevilla J (2016) Effect of sludge characteristics on membrane fouling during start-up of a tertiary submerged membrane bioreactor. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:8951–8962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Geng Z, Hall ER, Bérubé PR (2009) Roles of various mixed liquor constituents in membrane filtration of activated sludge. Desalin Water Treat 1:139–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hu J, Ren H, Xu K, Geng J, Ding L, Yan X, Li K (2012) Effect of carriers on sludge characteristics and mitigation of membrane fouling in attached-growth membrane bioreactor. Bioresour Technol 122:35–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Huang X, Wei C-H, Yu K-C (2008) Mechanism of membrane fouling control by suspended carriers in a submerged membrane bioreactor. J Membr Sci 309:7–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jin L, Ong SL, Ng HY (2013) Fouling control mechanism by suspended biofilm carriers addition in submerged ceramic membrane bioreactors. J Membr Sci 427:250–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kim J, Kim K, Ye H, Lee E, Shin C, McCarty PL, Bae J (2011) Anaerobic fluidized bed membrane bioreactor for wastewater treatment. Environ Sci Technol 45:576–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kim J, Shin J, Kim H, Lee J-Y, Yoon M-H, Won S, Lee B-C, Song KG (2014) Membrane fouling control using a rotary disk in a submerged anaerobic membrane sponge bioreactor. Bioresour Technol 172:321–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kraume M, Drews A (2010) Membrane bioreactors in waste water treatment—status and trends. Chem Eng Technol 33:1251–1259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Krause S, Zimmermann B, Meyer-Blumenroth U, Lamparter W, Siembida B, Cornel P (2010) Enhanced membrane bioreactor process without chemical cleaning. Water Sci Technol 61:2575–2580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kurita T, Kimura K, Watanabe Y (2015) Energy saving in the operation of submerged MBRs by the insertion of baffles and the introduction of granular materials. Sep Purif Technol 141:207–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kurita T, Kimura K, Watanabe Y (2014) The influence of granular materials on the operation and membrane fouling characteristics of submerged MBRs. J Membr Sci 469:292–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kwon D, Chang H, Seo H, Kim J (2015) Fouling behavior and system performance in membrane bioreactor introduced by granular media as a mechanical cleaning effect on membranes. Desalin Water Treat 1–9. doi: 10.1080/19443994.2015.1049404
  23. Le-Clech P, Chen V, Fane TAG (2006) Fouling in membrane bioreactors used in wastewater treatment. J Membr Sci 284:17–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lee S, Park S-K, Kwon H, Lee SH, Lee K, Nahm CH, Jo SJ, Oh H-S, Park P-K, Choo K-H, Lee C-H, Yi T (2016) Crossing the border between laboratory and field: bacterial quorum quenching for anti-biofouling strategy in an MBR. Environ Sci Technol 50:1788–1795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lee W-N, Kang I-J, Lee C-H (2006) Factors affecting filtration characteristics in membrane-coupled moving bed biofilm reactor. Water Res 40:1827–1835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Li J, Luo S, He Z (2016) Cathodic fluidized granular activated carbon assisted-membrane bioelectrochemical reactor for wastewater treatment. Sep Purif Technol 169:241–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meng F, Chae S-R, Drews A, Kraume M, Shin H-S, Yang F (2009) Recent advances in membrane bioreactors (MBRs): membrane fouling and membrane material. Water Res 43:1489–1512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Noordman T, De Jonge A, Wesselingh J, Bel W, Dekker M, Ter Voorde E, Grijpma S (2002) Application of fluidised particles as turbulence promoters in ultrafiltration: improvement of flux and rejection. J Membr Sci 208:157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pradhan M, Vigneswaran S, Kandasamy J, Aim RB (2012) Combined effect of air and mechanical scouring of membranes for fouling reduction in submerged membrane reactor. Desalination 288:58–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rosenberger S, Helmus FP, Drews A (2015) Addition of particles for fouling minimization in membrane bioreactors–permeability performance, fluid dynamics, and rheology. Chemie Ingenieur Technik 88:1–11Google Scholar
  31. Shim SN, Kim S-R, Jo SJ, Yeon K-M, Lee C-H (2015) Evaluation of mechanical membrane cleaning with moving beads in MBR using Box–Behnken response surface methodology. Desalin Water Treat 56:2797–2806Google Scholar
  32. Shin C, Kim K, McCarty PL, Kim J, Bae J (2016) Integrity of hollow-fiber membranes in a pilot-scale anaerobic fluidized membrane bioreactor (AFMBR) after two-years of operation. Sep Purif Technol 162:101–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Siembida B, Cornel P, Krause S, Zimmermann B (2010) Effect of mechanical cleaning with granular material on the permeability of submerged membranes in the MBR process. Water Res 44:4037–4046CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Velasco C, Calvo J, Palacio L, Carmona J, Prádanos P, Hernández A (2015) Flux kinetics, limit and critical fluxes for low pressure dead-end microfiltration. The case of BSA filtration through a positively charged membrane. Chem Eng Sci 129:58–68Google Scholar
  35. Verrecht B, Judd S, Guglielmi G, Brepols C, Mulder J (2008) An aeration energy model for an immersed membrane bioreactor. Water Res 42:4761–4770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Verrecht B, Maere T, Nopens I, Brepols C, Judd S (2010) The cost of a large-scale hollow fibre MBR. Water Res 44:5274–5283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wang J, Zamani F, Cahyadi A, Toh JY, Yang S, Wu B, Liu Y, Fane AG, Chew JW (2016) Correlating the hydrodynamics of fluidized granular activated carbon (GAC) with membrane-fouling mitigation. J Membr Sci 510:38–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wang Z, Ma J, Tang CY, Kimura K, Wang Q, Han X (2014) Membrane cleaning in membrane bioreactors: a review. J Membr Sci 468:276–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wu B, Zamani F, Lim W, Liao D, Wang Y, Liu Y, Chew JW, Fane AG (2017) Effect of mechanical scouring by granular activated carbon (GAC) on membrane fouling mitigation. Desalination 403:80–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wu B, Wang Y, Lim W, Chew JW, Fane AG, Liu Y (2016) Enhanced performance of submerged hollow fibre microfiltration by fluidized granular activated carbon. J Membr Sci 499:47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wu B, Wong PCY, Fane AG (2014) The potential roles of granular activated carbon in anaerobic fluidized membrane bioreactors: effect on membrane fouling and membrane integrity. Desalin Water Treat 53:1450–1459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yang Q, Chen J, Zhang F (2006) Membrane fouling control in a submerged membrane bioreactor with porous, flexible suspended carriers. Desalination 189:292–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ye Y, Chen V, Fane AG (2006) Modeling long-term subcritical filtration of model EPS solutions. Desalination 191:318–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ye Y, Le Clech P, Chen V, Fane AG, Jefferson B (2005) Fouling mechanisms of alginate solutions as model extracellular polymeric substances. Desalination 175:7–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yoo R, Kim J, McCarty PL, Bae J (2012) Anaerobic treatment of municipal wastewater with a staged anaerobic fluidized membrane bioreactor (SAF-MBR) system. Bioresour Technol 120:133–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yu D, Chen Y, Wei Y, Wang J, Wang Y, Li K (2015) Fouling analysis of membrane bioreactor treating antibiotic production wastewater at different hydraulic retention times. Environ Sci Pollut Res 1–10. doi: 10.1007/s11356-015-5751-5

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental EngineeringInha UniversityIncheonRepublic of Korea

Personalised recommendations