Effect of carbon to nitrogen ratio of feed wastewater and sludge retention time on activated sludge in a submerged membrane bioreactor

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2016 Jun;23(11):10742-10752. doi: 10.1007/s11356-016-6215-2. Epub 2016 Feb 18.


This paper investigated the effects of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on the activated sludge rheology in a submerged membrane bioreactor (sMBR) operated at different sludge retention time (SRT) values and different carbon to nitrogen ratios (C/N) of feed wastewater. The C/N ratios of the feed were adjusted accordingly so that synthetic wastewaters prepared simulated municipal wastewater, non-toxic wastewater with high C/N ratio and non-toxic wastewater with low C/N ratio. A number of important operational parameters such as mixed liquor suspended solid (MLSS), protein fraction of EPS (EPSp), carbohydrate fraction of EPS (EPSc), protein fraction of soluble microbial product (SMPp), carbohydrate fraction of SMP (SMPc), apparent viscosity, critical flux and hydrophobicity in mixed liquor and their correlations were investigated in the sMBR systems operated. The statistical analysis indicated that the C/N ratio of feed, SRT, MLSS and SMPc were found to have positive effects on apparent viscosity at three different shear rates. On the other hand, a negative impact was detected between the apparent viscosities and the critical fluxes. It was also observed that there is a significant positive correlation between hydrophobicity and both EPSp and SMPp.

Keywords: Activated sludge; C/N ratio; Critical flux; Extracellular polymeric substances; Membrane bioreactors; Rheology.

MeSH terms

  • Biopolymers
  • Bioreactors*
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Nitrogen / analysis*
  • Viscosity
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid* / methods
  • Wastewater / analysis*


  • Biopolymers
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Waste Water
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen