Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are present in wastewater from various sources like industry, roads, and household waste. They are difficult to remove due to their low concentration, stability, and ability to combine with other organic substances. The study aimed to address membrane fouling in the submerged membrane bioreactor (SMBR) used for wastewater treatment. An aluminum electrocoagulation (EC) device was combined with SMBR as a pre-treatment to reduce fouling. The EC-SMBR process was compared with a conventional SMBR without EC, both fed with real grey water. Lower voltage gradients were used to prevent biological growth. The comparison was conducted over 60 days with constant transmembrane pressure and infinite solid retention time (SRT). In phase I, when the EC device was operated at a low level of voltage gradient (0.64 V/cm), no significant improvement in the pollutants removal was observed in terms of color, turbidity, and chemical oxygen demand (COD). Nevertheless, during phase II, a voltage gradient of 1.26 V/cm achieved up to 100%, 99.7%, 92%, 94.1%, and 96.5% removals in the EC-SMBR process in comparison with 95.1%, 95.4%, 85%, 91.7% and 74.2% removals in the SMBR process for turbidity, color, COD, ammonia nitrogen (NH3–N), total phosphorus (TP), respectively. SMBR showed better anionic surfactant (AS) removal than EC-SMBR. A voltage gradient of 0.64 V/cm in the EC unit significantly reduced fouling by 23.7%, while 1.26 V/cm showed inconsistent results. Accumulation of Al ions negatively affected membrane performance. Low voltage gradients in EC can control SMBR fouling if Al concentration is controlled. Future research should investigate EC-SMBR with constant membrane flux for large-scale applications, considering energy consumption and operating costs.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-08-04
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): UK-C0015
Acknowledgements: This study was conducted at the American University in Cairo (AUC), in collaboration with Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, with support from Award No. UK-C0015, provided by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry