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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

Front. Environ. Sci. Eng.    2020, Vol. 14 Issue (4) : 59
Co-application of energy uncoupling and ultrafiltration in sludge treatment: Evaluations of sludge reduction, supernatant recovery and membrane fouling control
An Ding1(), Yingxue Zhao1, Zhongsen Yan2, Langming Bai1, Haiyang Yang1, Heng Liang1, Guibai Li1, Nanqi Ren1
1. State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment (SKLUWRE), Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, China
2. College of Civil Engineering, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350116, China
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• Effects of metabolic uncouplers addition on sludge reduction were carried out.

• TCS addition effectively inhibited ATP synthesis and reduced sludge yield.

• The effluent quality such as TOC and ammonia deteriorated but not significantly.

• Suitable dosage retarded biofouling during sludge water recovery by UF membrane.

Energy uncoupling is often used for sludge reduction because it is easy to operate and does not require a significant amount of extra equipments (i.e. no additional tank required). However, over time the supernatant extracted using this method can deteriorate, ultimately requiring further treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of using a low-pressure ultrafiltration membrane process for sludge water recovery after the sludge had undergone an energy uncoupling treatment (using 3,3′,4′,5-tetrachlorosalicylanilide (TCS)). Energy uncoupling was found to break apart sludge floc by reducing extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content. Analysis of supernatant indicated that when energy uncoupling and membrane filtration were co-applied and the TCS dosage was below 30 mg/L, there was no significant deterioration in organic component removal. However, ammonia and phosphate concentrations were found to increase as the concentration of TCS added increased. Additionally, due to low sludge concentrations and EPS contents, addition of 30–60 mg/L TCS during sludge reduction increased the permeate flux (two times higher than the control) and decreased the hydraulic reversible and cake layer resistances. In contrast, high dosage of TCS aggravated membrane fouling by forming compact fouling layers. In general, this study found that the co-application of energy uncoupling and membrane filtration processes represents an effective alternative method for simultaneous sludge reduction and sludge supernatant recovery.

Keywords Sludge reduction      Energy uncoupling      Ultrafiltration membrane      Membrane fouling     
Corresponding Author(s): An Ding   
Issue Date: 01 April 2020
 Cite this article:   
An Ding,Yingxue Zhao,Zhongsen Yan, et al. Co-application of energy uncoupling and ultrafiltration in sludge treatment: Evaluations of sludge reduction, supernatant recovery and membrane fouling control[J]. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng., 2020, 14(4): 59.
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An Ding
Yingxue Zhao
Zhongsen Yan
Langming Bai
Haiyang Yang
Heng Liang
Guibai Li
Nanqi Ren
Fig.1  Effect of TCS addition on sludge reduction: (a) MLSS concentration; (b) MLVSS concentration; (c) total ATP contents and (d) sludge yield.
Fig.2  Effect of TCS concentration on particle size of sludge: (a) the suspended sludge on Day 7; (b) the suspended sludge on Day 22; and (c) resuspended bio-fouling layer adhered on the membrane surface.
Fig.3  Effect of TCS on EPS and SMP distribution of the sludge: (a) EPS polysaccharides; (b) EPS proteins; (c) SMP polysaccharides; (d) SMP proteins; (e) EEM spectra of the EPS samples on Day 22; and (f) EEM spectra of the SMP samples on Day 22. E1, E2, E3 and E4 were the EPS samples; and S1, S2, S3 and S4 were the SMP samples from the four systems, respectively.
Fig.4  Effect of TCS addition on the permeate quality of the membrane process: (a) COD; (b) ammonium; and (c) total phosphorus.
Fig.5  Effects of TCS on permeability and fouling resistances during ultrafiltration membrane: (a) permeability development with time; (b) hydraulic and reversible and irreversible resistances; (c) pore blocking and cake layer resistances.
Sample Thickness
Surface porosity
Reactor 1 171.0±5.9 45.9±2.4 103.6±7.1 178.6±11.3 25.7±0.1
Reactor 2 150.7±4.2 30.2±3.5 65.8±3.7 128.6±9.2 21.5±0.8
Reactor 3 134.8±6.3 22.7±2.2 72.1±4.8 89.5±3.1 16.2±0.6
Reactor 4 118.1±3.5 16.9±1.4 61.3±5.8 73.7±4.7 7.7±0.3
Tab.1  Characterization of fouling layer with different concentration of TCS: Thickness, EPS, ATP contents and surface porosity (after drying) 40 (n = 3)
Fig.6  Three dimensional reconstructions of the Z-stacks acquired with confocal laser scanning microscopy images of bio-fouling layer on the membranes.
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