In this study, three laboratory scale submerged membrane bioreactors (MBRs) comprising a conventional MBR (C-MBR), moving bed MBR (MB-MBR) and anoxic-oxic MBR (A/O-MBR) were continuously operated with synthesized domestic wastewater (chemical oxygen demand, COD = 500 mg/L) for 150 days under similar operational and environmental conditions. Kaldnes® plastic media with 20% dry volume was used as a biofilm carrier in the MB-MBR and A/O-MBR. The treatment performance and fouling propensity of the MBRs were evaluated. The effect of cake layer formation in all three MBRs was almost the same. However, pore blocking caused a major difference in the resultant water flux. The A/O-MBR showed the highest total nitrogen and phosphorus (PO4-P) removal efficiencies of 83.2 and 69.7%, respectively. Due to the high removal of nitrogen, fewer protein contents were found in the soluble and bound extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of the A/O-MBR. Fouling trends of the MBRs showed 12, 14 and 20 days filtration cycles for C-MBR, MB-MBR and A/O-MBR, respectively. A 25% reduction of the soluble EPS and a 37% reduction of the bound EPS concentrations in A/O-MBR compared with C-MBR was a major contributing factor for fouling retardation and the enhanced filtration capacity of the A/O-MBR.

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