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Activated sludge model (ASM) based modelling of membrane bioreactor (MBR) processes: a critical review with special regard to MBR specificities

A Fenu, G Guglielmi, J Jimenez, M Spèrandio, D Saroj, B Lesjean, C Brepols, C Thoeye, I Nopens
Water Research 2010, 44 (15): 4272-94
20619870
Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) have been increasingly employed for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment in the last decade. The efforts for modelling of such wastewater treatment systems have always targeted either the biological processes (treatment quality target) as well as the various aspects of engineering (cost effective design and operation). The development of Activated Sludge Models (ASM) was an important evolution in the modelling of Conventional Activated Sludge (CAS) processes and their use is now very well established. However, although they were initially developed to describe CAS processes, they have simply been transferred and applied to MBR processes. Recent studies on MBR biological processes have reported several crucial specificities: medium to very high sludge retention times, high mixed liquor concentration, accumulation of soluble microbial products (SMP) rejected by the membrane filtration step, and high aeration rates for scouring purposes. These aspects raise the question as to what extent the ASM framework is applicable to MBR processes. Several studies highlighting some of the aforementioned issues are scattered through the literature. Hence, through a concise and structured overview of the past developments and current state-of-the-art in biological modelling of MBR, this review explores ASM-based modelling applied to MBR processes. The work aims to synthesize previous studies and differentiates between unmodified and modified applications of ASM to MBR. Particular emphasis is placed on influent fractionation, biokinetics, and soluble microbial products (SMPs)/exo-polymeric substances (EPS) modelling, and suggestions are put forward as to good modelling practice with regard to MBR modelling both for end-users and academia. A last section highlights shortcomings and future needs for improved biological modelling of MBR processes.

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