Aerobic granular sludge membrane bioreactor (AGMBR): Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) analysis

Oliver Terna Iorhemen, Rania Ahmed Hamza, Mohamed Sherif Zaghloul, Joo Hwa Tay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Aerobic granular sludge membrane bioreactor (AGMBR) has emerged with strong potential to overcome membrane fouling. There have been no extensive studies on extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in AGMBR. The present work aimed at conducting an in-depth study of EPS and monitoring fouling development in AGMBR using a 22 factorial design having hydraulic retention time (HRT) and total organic carbon (TOC) as independent variables. HRT was tested at three levels of 6, 8 and 10 h while the TOC levels were 104 ± 13, 189 ± 17, and 266 ± 27 mg/L. AGMBR exhibited high proteins (PN) in the tightly-bound EPS (TB-EPS) resulting in high proteins/polysaccharides (PN/PS) ratios of 2–16. The PN in the LB-EPS was low, ranging from 0.01 to 1.92 mg/g MLVSS, but the range of PN/PS ratio was also of 2–16. Despite the high PN/PS ratio, TMP rise was low. Water jet easily sloughed off the developed membrane cake layer. The elimination of chemicals for membrane cleaning has significant cost savings. TOC had a significant main effect on both the PN and PS components of TB-EPS at α < 0.05. TB-EPS PN increased with increase in TOC. TB-EPS PN decreased as HRT increased from 6 h to 10 h at 104 ± 13 mg/L TOC but the change of HRT from 10 h to 6 h at 266 ± 27 mg/L TOC did not affect TB-EPS PN. The TMP increased with increasing HRT at 104 ± 13 and 266 ± 27 mg/L TOC. An increase in sEPS PN correlated well with increase in membrane fouling (r = 0.581). Three runs performed best: 266 ± 27 mg/L TOC and 10 h HRT; 104 ± 13 mg/L TOC and 6 h HRT; and 266 ± 27 mg/L TOC and 6 h HRT as TMP was below the 50 kPa threshold. AGMBR achieved 98 ± 1%, 99 ± 1%, 52 ± 33% organics degradation, NH3-N removal, total nitrogen removal, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic granular sludge (AGS)
  • Aerobic granular sludge membrane bioreactor (AGMBR)
  • Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)
  • Membrane bioreactor (MBR)
  • Membrane fouling
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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