Wastewater treatment in a pilot-scale submerged membrane bioreactor: study of hydrodynamics under constant operating pressure

Abstract A pilot-scale Submerged Membrane Bioreactor provided with PEI hollow fiber membranes was operated under constant pressure mode in order to evaluate the effects of hydrodynamic conditions on the process performance, such as air flow rate, module packing density and aeration configuration. For the three different air flow rates studied (2, 5 and 8 L/min), results showed a limit value for this parameter, in which above this value a better performance will not be obtained and can even be worse. The air flow rate of 5 L/min presented the best performance, followed by 8 and 2 L/min. The module packing density was studied for two diameters (0.75 and 1 inch); the best result was observed for the larger diameter module, because lower packing density causes more space between fibers, increasing the aeration homogeneity inside de fiber bundle. Both aeration geometric tested showed similar permeate fluxes, indicating they did not affect the process performance. For all hydrodynamic conditions, the removal of TOC and COD was 96% and 93%, respectively.