This study investigated the impact of dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration on membrane filtering resistance, soluble organic matter (SOM) and extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) characteristics in a membrane bioreactor (MBR). A laboratory-scale MBR was operated under DO limited (0.2 mg L−1 DO) and fully aerobic (3.7 and 5.4 mg L−1 DO) conditions. Membrane filtering resistance was determined for the mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) and for resuspended microbial biomass after removing SOM. Regardless of the DO concentration, the cake resistance (Rc) was approximately 95 percent of the total resistance (Rt). The membrane cake resistance was found to decrease significantly after removing the SOM. The total resistance caused by the resuspended biomass was 29 percent of that caused by the MLSS under DO limited conditions, while the total resistance caused by resuspended biomass was 41 to 48 percent of that caused by the MLSS under fully aerobic conditions. Under DO limited conditions, SOM in the MLSS contained a larger amount of high molecular weight compounds, leading to higher cake resistance than under fully aerobic conditions. There was significant variation in the molecular weight fractions of the EPS, with no clear relationship with DO concentration. There was also no distinct relationship between membrane filtering resistance and molecular weight fraction of the EPS.

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