In this study, alum and natural zeolite were added to a submerged membrane bioreactor (MBR) not only to reduce membrane fouling but also to increase the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus. Alum addition reduced significantly the rising rate of suction pressure and also resulted in stable and better COD removal. Although phosphorus removal was more than 90% by chemical precipitation, nitrification inhibition was observed. With the addition of natural zeolite, membrane permeability was greatly enhanced by the formation of rigid floc that had lower specific resistance than that of the control activated sludge floc. In particular, the nitrification efficiency was over 95% even at N-shock loading due to the ion-exchange capacity of zeolite. The mechanisms for improved membrane permeability through alum or zeolite addition were discussed in detail.

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