Researchers in the UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have developed anti-fouling and self-cleaning membranes for use in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, with particular applications for anaerobic membrane bioreactors.
The membranes used in current membrane bioreactors for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment require continuous air scouring to prevent membrane fouling and periodic chemical treatment to keep the membranes clean. The scouring and cleaning processes increase both the energy consumption and operating costs of membrane bioreactors. Furthermore, membranes cannot currently be immersed in anaerobic membrane bioreactors, as the oxygen added from air scouring would destroy the anaerobic processes.
Researchers in the UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have developed novel membranes for use in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment. These membranes are electrically conducting, and applying an external electrical potential to the membrane surface generates electrochemical reactions and electrostatic repulsive forces at the water-membrane interface that significantly reduce membrane fouling. As a result, the novel membranes do not require air scouring or chemical cleaning. The membranes thus utilize less energy and have a lower operating cost than existing membrane technologies. Additionally, since the membranes do not require air scouring, they can be immersed in anaerobic membrane bioreactors.
wastewater treatment; water filtration; anaerobic membrane bioreactor; electrically conducting membrane; membrane fouling; membrane air scouring