The air sparging technique has been recognised as an effective way to control membrane fouling. However, its application to a submerged MBR (Membrane Bio-Reactor) has not yet been reported. This paper deals with the performances of air sparging on a submerged MBR for wastewater treatment. Two kinds of air sparging techniques were used respectively. First, air is injected into the membrane tube channels so that mixed liquor can circulate in the bioreactor (air-lift mode). Second, a periodic air-jet into the membrane tube is introduced (air-jet mode). Their applicability was evaluated with a series of lab-scale experiments using domestic wastewater. The flux increased from 23 to 33 lm−2h−1 (43% enhancement) when air was injected for the air-lift module. But further increase of flux was not observed as the gas flow increased. The Rc/(Rc+Rf), ratio of cake resistance (Rc) to sum of Rc and Rf (internal fouling resistance), was 23%, indicating that the Rc is not the predominant resistance unlike other MBR studies. It showed that the cake layer was removed sufficiently due to the air injection. Thus, an increase of air flow could not affect the flux performance. The air-jet module suffered from a clogging problem with accumulated sludge inside the lumen. Because the air-jet module has characteristics of dead end filtration, a periodic air-jet was not enough to blast all the accumulated sludge out. But flux was greater than in the air-lift module if the clogging was prevented by an appropriate cleaning regime such as periodical backwashing.

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