An anaerobic/aerobic system combining an anaerobic upflow-sludge bed filter (UBF) and an aerobic membrane bioreactor (MBR) was operated to enhance organic and nitrogen removal efficiency. The internal recycle rate, which is one of the most important operation factors that affects overall removal efficiency, was varied from 100% to 300% of the influent flow. Under these conditions, the overall removal efficiencies of organic and nitrogen and characteristics of membrane fouling in the combined system treating the synthetic wastewater including high concentration of organics and nutrients were studied. As a result, nitrogen removal efficiency was increased to 67% when the internal recycle rate was 300% of influent flow rate. As the internal recycle ratio increased from 100% to 200%, protein content decreased by 17% and carbohydrate content increased by 12%. However, there was no remarkable difference in total extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) content. At the high recycle rate of 300%, the surface charge of sludge was decreased while hydrophobicity (specific ultraviolet absorbance, SUVA) was increased. The differences in SUVA and surface charge were 11% and 1%, respectively. It is concluded that SUVA and EPS composition were important parameters affecting membrane fouling in the combined system.

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