Intermittent filtration and gas bubbling for fouling reduction in anaerobic membrane bioreactors

A. Cerón-Vivas, J. M. Morgan-Sagastume, A. Noyola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in an indexed scientific journalpeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The effect of intermittent filtration combined with gas bubbling on membrane fouling in a submerged anaerobic membrane bioreactor (SAnMBR) treating synthetic municipal wastewater was investigated. The experiments were performed using a bench-scale UASB reactor with a submerged tubular ulrafiltration membrane operated at room temperature and a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 8h. Results show that for a continuous filtration mode, the filtration run lasted 20.3h, while for intermittent filtration tests without gas bubbling, 10min on-1min off and 4min on-1min off, the duration were 32 and 52h, respectively. Moreover, when the gas bubbling was introduced, filtration runs were more than ten times longer than without it. Under tested organic loading rate of 1.2kg CODm -3d -1 COD removal efficiencies were between 96.3% and 98.7%. An early blockage in intermittent filtration tests without gas bubbling was related to the presence of the carbohydrate fraction of extracellular polymeric substances (EPSc) and soluble microbial products (SMPc). The better performance obtained with nitrogen bubbling was caused by the increased internal mixing, which induced a greater removal of organic matter in the reactor. The results suggest that the operation mode 4min on-1min off with intermittent filtration and gas bubbling in the period of relaxation was more effective in minimizing membrane fouling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-142
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a grant from the Instituto de Ingeniería UNAM (Fondo de Proyectos Internos) . The authors thank Roberto Briones, Lauro Santiago and Margarita E. Cisneros for their technical support. Dr. Adrián Pedrozo and César Gutiérrez contributed with gas velocity measurements using BIV technique. The first author appreciates the support given by the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Colombia) and the scholarship provided by the Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología del Distrito Federal, México.


  • Extracellular polymeric substances
  • Gas bubbling
  • Membrane fouling
  • Soluble microbial products
  • UASB


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