Novel low-fouling membrane bioreactor (MBR) for industrial wastewater treatment
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A novel antifouling coating of ultrafiltration (UF) commercial membranes, based on a polymerisable bicontinuous microemulsion (PBM) technique, was developed and tested for the first time in a membrane bioreactor (MBR) using an artificial model textile dye wastewater and compared with a commercial uncoated UF membrane. The results showed that the commercial MBR module faced severe fouling problems whereas the novel coated PBM MBR module reduced the fouling significantly. The analysis of fouling rate using a resistance model confirms that PBM coated membrane has a higher antifouling effect. The antimicrobial properties of the PBM membrane contributed by polymerisable cationic surfactant acryloyloxyundecyltriethylammonium bromide (AUTEAB) guaranteed an anti-biofouling effect preventing the growth of microorganisms on the membrane surface. In addition, the PBM MBR module showed 10±1% higher blue dye removal efficiency and a similar rate of COD removal efficiency of about 95±1% compared to commercial module. However, water permeability was slightly lower due to extra resistance of the PBM coating. Root mean squared (RMS) roughness measurement and analysis of AFM images confirmed that the stable novel membrane coating still existed and showed antimicrobial effect even after 105 days of operation. The results obtained demonstrated the potential of the low fouling PBM membrane.