Analysis of the liquid phase. Extracellular polymeric substances

Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) can be differentiated into two main types: bound EPS, which form the structure of the floc, and soluble EPS (often named soluble microbial products), which are soluble or colloidal form in the liquid medium. Recent studies have shown that the soluble and colloidal fraction plays an important role in membrane fouling (Drews, 2010). Their principle components are also generally recognised as proteins and polysaccharides (Sponza, 2002).

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Fig. 10. Average soluble EPS concentration of feedwater, liquid-phase and permeate.

Figure 10 compares the average concentrations of proteins and polysaccharides in the feed wastewater, in the liquid-phase and in the permeate. A significant reduction in EPS can be observed in the liquid-phase in relation to feed (82% for proteins and 51% for polysaccharides), as a result of biological metabolism. On the other hand, the separation through the membrane of the polysaccharides is 31% and for the protein it is 28%, both remaining constant throughout the experimental test. These membrane retention values are similar to those found in the literature (Rosenberger et al., 2006).

A low concentration was unexpected in the liquid-phase, as the common trend is to suppose EPS accumulation resulting from polymer retention by the membrane (Masse et al., 2006). As a consequence specific microorganisms may be assumed to develop, which can degrade polysaccharides and proteins with a slow degradation rate.

4.2 Membrane performance

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