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Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 58 No 10 pp 1903–1909 © IWA Publishing 2008 doi:10.2166/wst.2008.752

Monitoring of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) in a membrane bioreactor (MBR) and correlation with other fouling indicators

T. de la Torre, B. Lesjean, A. Drews and M. Kraume

Berlin Centre of Competence for Water, Cicerostr. 24, 10709, Berlin, Germany E-mail: teresa.delatorre@kompetenz-wasser.de
Chair of Chem. Engineering, TU Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 136, Sekr. MA 5-7, 10623, Berlin, Germany


ABSTRACT

The occurrence of Transparent Exopolymer Particles (TEP), an acidic fraction of polysaccharides, was monitored for more than six months in the activated sludge of three MBR units, and the relationship between TEP and other fouling indicators was studied. These compounds consist mainly of exopolysaccharides of a sticky nature, a characteristic which makes them a group of interesting substances in processes like sedimentation, flocculation and membrane fouling. The relationship between capillary suction time (CST) and polysaccharides (PS) was linear for the three tested sludges, although the correlation with TEP concentrations was stronger. A slight linear correlation of both TEP and PS was found with the critical flux (CF) measured with a small filtration test cell, which was submerged in the membrane tank to assess the filterability performance of the sludge in situ. However, the correlation CF-PS was clearer. The relationship between TEP, polysaccharides and sludge filterability highlights the potential of this parameter for the monitoring of membrane systems.

Keywords: capillary suction time (CST); critical flux; extracellular polymeric substances (EPS); fouling; membrane bioreactor (MBR); transparent exopolymer particles (TEP)


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