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Title: Modelling of novel rotating membrane bioreactor processes
Authors: Jones, Franck Anderson
Advisors: Paul, P
Hill, R
Braimah, N
Keywords: Fouling of membranes;Static membrane bioreactors;Synthetic wastewater;Comparative study of MBR;Cake filtration
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: Previous membrane researches undertaken over the years to develop general deadend filtration models made use of an approach that combined all three classical fouling mechanisms, namely, pore blocking, pore constriction and cake filtration. More recently researchers have modified and adapted this modelling approach for a cross flow side-stream membrane bioreactor (MBR) system. Literature also reveals that there have been numerous recent experimental studies conducted on rotating membrane bioreactor (RMBR) systems. Some of these studies have resulted in the creation of RMBR models of the membrane fouling process as well. However, simulation and modelling of the fouling in RMBRs is still a nascent topic to date due to poor understanding and great complexity of the system hydrodynamics involved. Even when models are developed, they are either too complex to be useful at operational level, or not comprehensive enough to express all possible operational scenarios. In many cases they are simply too difficult to calibrate and thus ending up being more suited as research tools rather than for direct process control. As such, further research is required in this area. The research reported in this thesis consists of the development and validation of a RMBR system fouling model that incorporates all three classical fouling mechanisms. This thesis work is divided into two main sections. On top of a literature review that thoroughly describes the background theory and general information on MBRs along with their state of the art, the first section of the thesis also explains the specific methodologies used to accomplish all the main tasks carried out in this research work. The first step of these methodologies involves the setting-up of a rotating MBR system process based upon the FUV-185-A15R Flexidisks membrane module that was developed by Avanti Membrane Technology (USA). This system was used to collect the majority of the data used in this thesis. Since some of these data outputs were compared against non-rotating MBR systems, a similar setting-up process for a bespoke static square MBR system was carried out as well. Using synthetic wastewater in conjunction with activated sludge, mixed liquor suspended solids in both MBR system bioreactors were increased in levels over time to desired levels (i.e. by periodic excess sludge wasting). Trans-membrane pressure (TMP)-stepping fouling data was then acquired from operations of these membrane ultrafiltration processes. This data was obtained by measuring the flux decline or TMP increase. Following data collection, a dynamic fouling model for this RMBR system was then created in Matlab (using the Genetic Algorithm function). To do this, hydrodynamic regimes such as air scouring and rotating shear effects along with all the three classical fouling mechanisms were included in the mathematical fouling model that was created from first principles. For the purpose of comparison, a similar fouling model was created without incorporating the rotational effects for the static square MBR system. This included modelling of the hydrodynamics as well. Finally, both these models were validated and calibrated using the data that were collected from both laboratory-based MBR systems. The second phase of the thesis explores the numerous outputted results produced via model simulations which were then discussed and analysed in great detail. Results from this research indicate that the mathematical models give a decent portrayal and description of the fouling mechanisms occurring within a rotating MBR system. It was found that the rotational mechanisms in terms of fouling prevention accounted for only twelve percent of cake removal with the rest being accomplished through the air scouring mechanism. However, it was found that although the slowly rotating spindle induced a weak crossflow shear, it was still able to even out cake build up across the membrane surface, thus reducing the likelihood of localised critical flux being exceeded, which would lead to dramatic loss of flux. Furthermore, when compared against the static MBR system, the study concluded that a rotating MBR system could increase the flux throughput by a significant amount. In conclusion, RMBR systems appear to represent alternative viable solutions when compared against the traditional static MBR systems that currently dominate the industrial and municipal marketplace. In future, RMBR systems may become the systems of first choice once there is a better understanding of the rotational processes, and once research and design into this sector broadens. Future study areas should thus focus on: whether the forces acting on an activated sludge particle during rotation have a significant effect on the fouling or the shear hydrodynamic regimes; whether activated sludge and benchmark models could be created for rotating MBRs whilst including the shear effects and hydrodynamic regimes; whether model predictive control using these developed RMBR models would enhance efficiency gains within an operational plant; and, whether the real measured soluble microbial products (SMP) concentrations could be used to create an even better SMP predictive model that accurately explains fouling behaviour.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Civil Engineering
Dept of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering Theses

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