A hybrid membrane bioreactor (HMBR) employing activated sludge and biofilm simultaneously is proved to represent a good performance on membrane fouling control compared to conventional membrane bioreactor (CMBR) by reducing extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), especially bound EPS (B-EPS). In order to better understand the mechanism of membrane fouling control by the HMBR in regard of microbial community composition, a pilot scale HMBR operated to treat domestic wastewater for six months, and a CMBR operated at the same time as control group. Results showed that HMBR can effectively control membrane fouling. When transmembrane pressure reached 0.1 MPa, the membrane module in the HMBR operated for about 26.7% longer than that in the CMBR. In the HMBR, the quantity of EPS was significantly lower than that in the CMBR. In this paper, soluble EPS was also found to have a close relationship with cake layer resistance. The species richness and diversity in the HMBR were higher than those in the CMBR, and a certain difference between the compositions of microbial communities in the two reactors was confirmed. Therefore, the difference in microbial community compositions may be the direct reason why EPS in the HMBR was lower than that in the CMBR.
Keywords: biofilm; extracellular polymeric substances (EPS); hybrid membrane bioreactor (HMBR); membrane fouling; microbial community.