Two submerged anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) with and without powdered activated carbon (PAC) were studied to revisit the effect of PAC on membrane fouling performance by long-term operation when treating synthetic sewage. The results showed that PAC remained efficient for membrane fouling control after long-term operation (over 140 d), and it reduced the fouling rate at a hydraulic retention time of 8 h from 3.12 to 0.89 kPa/d. PAC mainly mitigated the membrane fouling by restraining the formation of a cake layer while generating a gel layer on the membrane surface, which was attributed to the PAC-induced microbial community change in mixed liquor and the membrane surface. Microbial community analysis indicated the genera Pseudomonas (26.5%) and Methanothrix (79.21%) were the predominant bacteria and archaea, respectively, in the gel layer, and this result is completely different from the presence of a high abundance of Levilinea (7.1%), Aminivibrio (4.9%) and Methanothrix (90.04%) in the cake layer on the membrane surface without PAC. The significant difference in the predominant microbes in the membrane surface layer was attributed to the reduced enrichment of Levilinea and Methanothrix with PAC addition.
- Anaerobic membrane bioreactor
- Cake layer
- Gel fouling
- Membrane fouling
- Powdered activated carbon