Parallel experimental tests to measure mixed liquor filterability for submerged membrane bioreactors were conducted over a six month period using three ZW-500 pilot plants and a ZW-10 lab-scale filterability apparatus. Non-air sparged conditions during the tests yielded operation behaviour that was equivalent to dead-end filtration. The fouling resistance increased linearly with the intercepted mass until a critical point was reached at which point significant cake compression was induced and the resistance began to increase exponentially. Although the point of cake compression appears to be dependent on the membrane module design, similar resistance per unit solid mass intercepted per unit area (Rmass) values were observed when the same mixed liquor was filtered. Coupled with the established correlation between the Rmass and the critical flux, it is suggested that the filterability test results from a side-stream, lab-scale module may be used to predict fouling potential in a full scale MBR wastewater treatment system without interrupting the full-scale MBR operation.

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