A cross-flow ultrafiltration (UF) membrane separation was applied to anaerobic process for treatment of a wastewater containing high proportion of particulate COD. A synthetic wastewater with the total strength of 5000 mg COD·1−1 consisting of soluble and particulate COD (cellulose) in the ratio of 1:1 was fed to the reactor. The reactor was operated for 190 days at two loading rates, i.e. 1.5 and 2.5 kg COD·m−3·d−1. More than 98% of COD removal was consistently achieved throughout the duration, and the system was furthermore likely to accommodate much higher loading. Although the permeate COD was always kept at less than 80 mg COD·1−1, soluble COD of reactor broth accumulated up to 1200 mg COD·1−1. The biomass concentration saturated around 15 000 mg ML VSS·1−1. There was no tendency for cellulose to accumulate in the reactor over the whole period, which constituted only 1-2% of the total solids retained in the reactor. The methanogenic activity of the sludge increased 3.4 times for H2/CO2 and 10 times for acetate after 40 days operation. Afterwards, however, a further cultivation caused declines to 50% of the respective peak values for both substrates, because of a low sludge loading. The methanogenic activity using cellulose as a test substrate also exhibited a similar tendency. The membrane permeate flux deteriorated significantly with the cultivation time, owing to the change in rheological properties of the reactor mixed liquor that had been caused not only by increment of MLSS but also by accumulation of soluble high molecular organics.

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