Membrane fouling and performance of anaerobic ceramic membrane bioreactor treating phenol- and quinoline-containing wastewater: granular activated carbon vs polyaluminum chloride

  • Shun Wang
  • Cong Ma
  • Chao Pang
  • Zhenhu Hu
  • Wei WangEmail author
Appropriate Technologies to Combat Water Pollution


Although anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) has been proposed for the treatment of phenolic wastewater, the membrane fouling is still a major obstacle. The effects of dosing of granular activated carbon (GAC) and polyaluminum chloride (PACl) on the treatment performance and membrane fouling of anaerobic ceramic membrane bioreactor were investigated for treating phenol- and quinoline-containing wastewater. The results suggested that the one-off dosing of GAC resulted in a decrease of protein/carbohydrate ratio, which might account for the aggravation of membrane fouling alongside with the decreased flocs size. Nevertheless, the substrate uptake rates (SUR) of phenol and quinoline, and the specific methanogenic activity of sludge at the GAC dosing stage of experimental reactor (R1) were 8.79 ± 0.63 mg phenol g−1 MLVSS d−1, 7.01 ± 0.09 mg quinoline g−1 MLVSS d−1 and 0.27 ± 0.01 g CODCH4 g−1 MLVSS d−1, which were 1.69, 3.59 and 1.93 times higher than that of the control reactor (R2). The dosing of PACl reduced the membrane fouling rate by changing the floc structure of sludge, as well as the component of SMP and EPS. However, the substrate uptake rate of quinoline was declined. This work provides a comprehensive evaluation on the effect of GAC and PACl dosing on membrane fouling and performance of anaerobic ceramic membrane bioreactor treating phenol-and quinoline-containing wastewater.


Anaerobic digestion Anaerobic membrane bioreactor Granular activated carbon Polyaluminum chloride Phenol Membrane fouling 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51878232), Key Laboratory of Urban Pollutant Conversion of Chinese Academy of Sciences (KF201702) and Science and technology project of Anhui provincial housing and urban rural development office (2017YF-05).


  1. Aliakbarian B, Casazza AA, Perego P (2015) Kinetic and isotherm modelling of the adsorption of phenolic compounds from olive mill wastewater onto activated carbon. Food Technol Biotechnol 53:207–214. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. APHA (2005) Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 21st edn. American Public Health Association, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  3. Arabi S, Nakhla G (2009) Impact of cation concentrations on fouling in membrane bioreactors. J Membr Sci 343(1-2):110–118. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aun Ng C, Sun D, Fane AG (2006) Operation of membrane bioreactor with powdered activated carbon addition. Sep Sci Technol 41(7):1447–1466. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bai YH, Sun QH, Zhao C, Wen DH, Tang XY (2010) Quinoline biodegradation and its nitrogen transformation pathway by a Pseudomonas sp. strain. Biodegradation 21(3):335–344. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banu R, Kaliappan S, Beck D (2007) Treatment of spent wash in anaerobic thermophilic suspended growth reactor (ATSGR). J Environ Biol 28(2):517–521Google Scholar
  7. Basile A, Cassano A, Rastogi NK (2015) Advances in membrane technologies for water treatment: materials, processes and applications. Woodhead Publishing, Elsevier Ltd.
  8. Cansado IPP, Mourão PAM, Falcão AI, Carrott MMLR, Carrott PJM (2012) The influence of the activated carbon post-treatment on the phenolic compounds removal. Fuel Process Technol 103:64–70. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carbajo JB, Boltes K, Leton P (2010) Treatment of phenol in an anaerobic fluidized bed reactor (AFBR): continuous and batch regime. Biodegradation 21(4):603–613. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment [CCME]. 1999. Canadian water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. Polycyclic Aromatic HydrocarbonsGoogle Scholar
  11. Crone BC, Garland JL, Sorial GA, Vane LM (2016) Significance of dissolved methane in effluents of anaerobically treated low strength wastewater and potential for recovery as an energy product: a review. Water Res 104:520–531. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deng L, Guo W, Ngo HH, Zuthi MFR, Zhang J, Liang S, Li J, Wang J, Zhang X (2015) Membrane fouling reduction and improvement of sludge characteristics by bioflocculant addition in submerged membrane bioreactor. Sep Purif Technol 156:450–458. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deng LJ, Guo WS, Ngo HH, Du B, Wei Q, Tran NH, Nguyen NC, Chen SS, Li JX (2016) Effects of hydraulic retention time and bioflocculant addition on membrane fouling in a sponge-submerged membrane bioreactor. Bioresour Technol 210:11–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dereli RK, Grelot A, Heffernan B, van der Zee FP, van Lier JB (2014) Implications of changes in solids retention time on long term evolution of sludge filterability in anaerobic membrane bioreactors treating high strength industrial wastewater. Water Res 59:11–22. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ding A, Liang H, Qu FS, Bai LM, Li GB, Ngo HH, Guo WS (2014) Effect of granular activated carbon addition on the effluent properties and fouling potentials of membrane-coupled expanded granular sludge bed process. Bioresour Technol 171:240–246. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dong M, Gao B, Xu W, Wang Y, Mao R (2012) Effect of calcium on floc properties and membrane foulings in coagulation–ultrafiltration process by polyaluminum chloride (PACl) of different OH/Al3+ values. Desalination 294:30–35. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dosta J, Nieto JM, Vila J, Grifoll M, Mata-Alvarez J (2011) Phenol removal from hypersaline wastewaters in a membrane biological reactor (MBR): operation and microbiological characterisation. Bioresour Technol 102(5):4013–4020. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ersahin ME, Ozgun H, Tao Y, van Lier JB (2014) Applicability of dynamic membrane technology in anaerobic membrane bioreactors. Water Res 48:420–429. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ersahin ME, Tao Y, Ozgun H, Spanjers H, van Lier JB (2015) Characteristics and role of dynamic membrane layer in anaerobic membrane bioreactors. Biotechnol Bioeng 113(4):761–771. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frølund B, Palmgren R, Keiding K, Nielsen PH (1996) Extraction of extracellular polymers from activated sludge using a cation exchange resin. Water Res 30(8):1749–1758. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gkotsis PK, Batsari EL, Peleka EN, Tolkou AK, Zouboulis AI (2017) Fouling control in a lab-scale MBR system: comparison of several commercially applied coagulants. J Environ Manag 203:838–846. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hu AY, Stuckey DC (2007) Activated carbon addition to a submerged anaerobic membrane bioreactor: effect on performance, transmembrane pressure, and flux. J Environ Eng 133(1):73–80. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huang X, Wei CH, Yu KC (2008) Mechanism of membrane fouling control by suspended carriers in a submerged membrane bioreactor. J Membr Sci 309(1-2):7–16. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huyskens C, De Wever H, Fovet Y, Wegmann U, Diels L, Lenaerts S (2012) Screening of novel MBR fouling reducers: benchmarking with known fouling reducers and evaluation of their mechanism of action. Sep Purif Technol 95:49–57. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hwang BK, Lee WN, Yeon KM, Park PK, Lee CH, Chang IS, Drews A, Kraume M (2008) Correlating TMP increases with microbial characteristics in the bio-cake on the membrane surface in a membrane bioreactor. Environ Sci Technol 42(11):3963–3968. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jeison D, Telkamp P, van Lier JB (2009) Thermophilic sidestream anaerobic membrane bioreactors: the shear rate dilemma. Water Environ Res 81(11):2372–2380. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jin L, Ong SL, Ng HY (2010) Comparison of fouling characteristics in different pore-sized submerged ceramic membrane bioreactors. Water Res 44(20):5907–5918. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Johir MA, Shanmuganathan S, Vigneswaran S, Kandasamy J (2013) Performance of submerged membrane bioreactor (SMBR) with and without the addition of the different particle sizes of GAC as suspended medium. Bioresour Technol 141:13–18. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Juang RS, Chung TP, Wang ML, Lee DJ (2008) Experimental observations on the effect of added dispersing agent on phenol biodegradation in a microporous membrane bioreactor. J Hazard Mater 151:746–752. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Li HQ, Han HJ, Du MA, Wang W (2011) Removal of phenols, thiocyanate and ammonium from coal gasification wastewater using moving bed biofilm reactor. Bioresour Technol 102(7):4667–4673. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li HS, Wen Y, Cao AS, Huang JS, Zhou Q, Somasundaran P (2012) The influence of additives (Ca2+, Al3+, and Fe3+) on the interaction energy and loosely bound extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of activated sludge and their flocculation mechanisms. Bioresour Technol 114:188–194. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Li YJ, Tabassum S, Zhang ZJ (2016) An advanced anaerobic biofilter with effluent recirculation for phenol removal and methane production in treatment of coal gasification wastewater. J Environ Sci-China 47:23–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ma C, Yu SL, Shi WX, Heijman SGJ, Rietveld LC (2013) Effect of different temperatures on performance and membrane fouling in high concentration PAC-MBR system treating micro-polluted surface water. Bioresour Technol 141:19–24. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Manning HE, Chong TH, Carr D, Bird MR (2016) Critical flux of gum arabic: implications for fouling And fractionation performance of membranes. Food Bioprod Process 97:41–47. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Muñoz Sierra JD, Lafita C, Gabaldón C, Spanjers H, van Lier JB (2017) Trace metals supplementation in anaerobic membrane bioreactors treating highly saline phenolic wastewater. Bioresour Technol 234:106–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Muñoz Sierra JD, Oosterkamp MJ, Wang W, Spanjers H, van Lier JB (2018a) Impact of long-term salinity exposure in anaerobic membrane bioreactors treating phenolic wastewater: performance robustness and endured microbial community. Water Res 141:172–184. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Muñoz Sierra JD, Wang W, Cerqueda-Garcia D, Oosterkamp MJ, Spanjers H, van Lier JB (2018b) Temperature susceptibility of a mesophilic anaerobic membrane bioreactor treating saline phenol-containing wastewater. Chemosphere 213:92–102. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Niu MQ, Zhang WJ, Wang DS, Chen Y, Chen RL (2013) Correlation of physicochemical properties and sludge dewaterability under chemical conditioning using inorganic coagulants. Bioresour Technol 144:337–343. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ozgun H, Dereli RK, Ersahin ME, Kinaci C, Spanjers H, van Lier JB (2013) A review of anaerobic membrane bioreactors for municipal wastewater treatment: Integration options, limitations and expectations. Sep Purif Technol 118:89–104. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ozgun H, Tao Y, Ersahin ME, Zhou Z, Gimenez JB, Spanjers H, van Lier JB (2015) Impact of temperature on feed-flow characteristics and filtration performance of an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket coupled ultrafiltration membrane treating municipal wastewater. Water Res 83:71–83. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Park H, Choo KH, Lee CH (1999) Flux enhancement with powdered activated carbon addition in the membrane anaerobic bioreactor. Sep Sci Technol 34(14):2781–2792. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Poirier S, Déjean S, Chapleur O (2018) Support media can steer methanogenesis in the presence of phenol through biotic and abiotic effects. Water Res 140:24–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rajesh Banu J, Arulazhagan P, Adish Kumar S, Kaliappan S, Lakshmi AM (2015) Anaerobic co-digestion of chemical-and ozone-pretreated sludge in hybrid upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor. Desalin Water Treat 54:3269–3278. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Remy M, Potier V, Temmink H, Rulkens W (2010) Why low powdered activated carbon addition reduces membrane fouling in MBRs. Water Res 44(3):861–867. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Skouteris G, Hermosilla D, López P, Negro C, Blanco Á (2012) Anaerobic membrane bioreactors for wastewater treatment: a review. Chem Eng J 198-199:138–148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Skouteris G, Saroj D, Melidis P, Hai FI, Ouki S (2015) The effect of activated carbon addition on membrane bioreactor processes for wastewater treatment and reclamation - a critical review. Bioresour Technol 185:399–410. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sokkanathan G, Sharmila VG, Kaliappan S, Banu JR, Yeom IT, Rani RU (2018) Combinative treatment of phenol-rich retting-pond wastewater by a hybrid upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor and solar photofenton process. J Environ Manag 206:999–1006. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sung H-N, Katsou E, Statiris E, Anguilano L, Malamis S (2018) Operation of a modified anaerobic baffled reactor coupled with a membrane bioreactor for the treatment of municipal wastewater in Taiwan. Environ Technol:1–6.
  49. Tijing LD, Woo YC, Choi J-S, Lee S, Kim S-H, Shon HK (2015) Fouling and its control in membrane distillation—a review. J Membr Sci 475:215–244. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Veeresh GS, Kumar P, Mehrotra I (2005) Treatment of phenol and cresols in upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) process: a review. Water Res 39(1):154–170. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Víctor-Ortega MD, Ochando-Pulido JM, Martínez-Férez A (2016) Phenols removal from industrial effluents through novel polymeric resins: kinetics and equilibrium studies. Sep Purif Technol 160:136–144. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang W, Han HJ (2012) Recovery strategies for tackling the impact of phenolic compounds in a UASB reactor treating coal gasification wastewater. Bioresour Technol 103(1):95–100. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wang W, Han HJ, Yuan M, Li HQ, Fang F, Wang K (2011) Treatment of coal gasification wastewater by a two-continuous UASB system with step-feed for COD and phenols removal. Bioresour Technol 102(9):5454–5460. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wang W, Wang S, Ren XS, Hu ZH, Yuan SJ (2017a) Rapid establishment of phenol- and quinoline-degrading consortia driven by the scoured cake layer in an anaerobic baffled ceramic membrane bioreactor. Environ Sci Pollut R 24(33):26125–26135. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wang W, Wu BT, Pan SL, Yang K, Hu ZH, Yuan SJ (2017b) Performance robustness of the UASB reactors treating saline phenolic wastewater and analysis of microbial community structure. J Hazard Mater 331:21–27. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wang W, Yang K, Sierra JM, Zhang XD, Yuan SJ, Hu ZH (2017c) Potential impact of methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) on phenols degradation in an UASB reactor and its degradation properties. J Hazard Mater 333:73–79. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wu B, Zamani F, Wk L, Liao DX, Wang YY, Liu Y, Chew JW, Fane AG (2017) Effect of mechanical scouring by granular activated carbon (GAC) on membrane fouling mitigation. Desalination 403:80–87. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yang JX, Spanjers H, Jeison D, Van Lier JB (2013) Impact of Na+on biological wastewater treatment and the potential of anaerobic membrane bioreactors: a review. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 43(24):2722–2746. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yu ZY, Song ZH, Wen XH, Huang X (2015) Using polyaluminum chloride and polyacrylamide to control membrane fouling in a cross-flow anaerobic membrane bioreactor. J Membr Sci 479:20–27. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yusoff N, Ong SA, Ho LN, Wong YS, Mohd Saad FN, Khalik W, Lee SL (2016) Evaluation of biodegradation process: comparative study between suspended and hybrid microorganism growth system in sequencing batch reactor (SBR) for removal of phenol. Biochem Eng J 115:14–22. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhang FF, Wang W, Yuan SJ, Hu ZH (2014) Biodegradation and speciation of roxarsone in an anaerobic granular sludge system and its impacts. J Hazard Mater 279:562–568. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zhao S, Gao BY, Yue QY, Song WC, Jia RB, Liu P (2015) Evaluation of floc properties and membrane fouling in coagulation–ultrafiltration system: the role of enteromorpha polysaccharides. Desalination 367:126–133. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shun Wang
    • 1
  • Cong Ma
    • 2
  • Chao Pang
    • 1
  • Zhenhu Hu
    • 1
  • Wei Wang
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Municipal Engineering, School of Civil EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Separation Membranes and Membrane Processes, School of Environmental and Chemical EngineeringTianjin Polytechnic UniversityTianjinChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Urban Pollutant Conversion, Chinese Academy of SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina

Personalised recommendations