Aggravation of membrane fouling and methane leakage by a three-phase separator in an external anaerobic ceramic membrane bioreactor

  • Chao Pang
  • Chunhua He
  • Zhenhu Hu
  • Shoujun Yuan
  • Wei WangEmail author
Research Article


The three-phase separator is a critical component of high-rate anaerobic bioreactors due to its significant contribution in separation of biomass, wastewater, and biogas. However, its role in an anaerobic membrane bioreactor is still not clear. In this study, the distinction between an external anaerobic ceramic membrane bioreactor (EAnCMBR) unequipped (R1) and equipped (R2) with a three-phase separator was investigated in terms of treatment performance, membrane fouling, extracellular polymers of sludge, and microbial community structure. The results indicate that the COD removal efficiencies of R1 and R2 were 98.2%±0.4% and 98.1%±0.4%, respectively, but the start-up period of R2 was slightly delayed. Moreover, the membrane fouling rate of R2 (0.4 kPa/d) was higher than that of R1 (0.2 kPa/d). Interestingly, the methane leakage from R2 (0.1 L/d) was 20 times higher than that from R1 (0.005 L/d). The results demonstrate that the three-phase separator aggravated the membrane fouling rate and methane leakage in the EAnCMBR. Therefore, this study provides a novel perspective on the effects of a three-phase separator in an EAnCMBR.


Anaerobic membrane bioreactor Three-phase separator Membrane fouling Methane leakage Sludge property 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51878232), Science and technology project of Anhui provincial housing and urban rural development office (No. 2017YF-05), and CAS Key Laboratory of Urban Pollutant Conversion, University of Science and Technology of China (No. KF201702).

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chao Pang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chunhua He
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhenhu Hu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shoujun Yuan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Municipal Engineering, School of Civil EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Urban Pollutant Conversion, Chinese Academy of SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina

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