A submerged flat metal MBR (membrane bioreactor) was used to treat synthetic domestic sewage in this study. The experiment was continued for 270 days and ran under two modes as AMBR (aerobic membrane bioreactor) and A/O-MBR (anoxic/aerobic membrane bioreactor) at a permeate flux of 0.4–1 m3/(m2 d). PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) gel beads were added to the aeration tank with a volume ratio of 10% at the end of the A/O-MBR mode. The mean COD and TN removal efficiencies achieved 96.69 and 32.12% under the AMBR mode, and those were 92.17 and 72.44% under the A/O-MBR mode, respectively. SND (simultaneous nitrification and denitrification) occurred at high MLSS (mixed liquor suspended solids) concentration. The metal membranes reduced effluent COD during filtration. The system ran stably for 115 days at a permeate flux of 0.8–1 m3/(m2 d) without changing membranes under the AMBR mode, but the membrane filterability decreased gradually under high MLSS or A/O-MBR mode, and the addition of PVA worsened the membrane filterability on the contrary. PSD (particle size distribution) and sludge fractions had evident influence on membrane fouling. The main fouling mechanism was cake formation under the AMBR mode, and that was pore blocking under the A/O-MBR mode.

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