Journal of Membrane Science vol:379 issue:1-2 pages:146-153
High-throughput (HT) technology has proven to be a powerful tool to rapidly and efficiently screen materials and processes. The objective of this study was to investigate the applicability of HT technology for membrane bioreactors (MBRs). For this purpose, a prototype HT-MBR consisting of six parallel filtration membrane modules was developed. The performance of the system was validated by studying its reproducibility, scalability and reliability in terms of critical flux (CF) and filtration index (FI). The tests were performed using both lab-made polysulfone membranes (PSFL) and commercial (Toray) polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDFT) membranes. The system could be used to measure the CF simultaneously in parallel operation for six different membranes. The percentage standard deviations (%sigma) on the FIs were respectively 2-7%, 3-23% and 7-16% for repeated filtrations, filtrations in different module positions (interchanged positions) and filtrations with different module areas. Improved reproducibility was obtained for tests using the commercial PVDFT membrane with a %sigma of 5-7% and 4-7% for repeated filtrations on single position and interchanged positions, respectively, as ascribed to more homogeneous membrane properties over different samples. The overall results prove that the developed HT-MBR can be used as an efficient tool for fouling studies, for testing and developing membranes for MBR application and for studying the overall MBR process. Also, using six replicate membrane modules allows for a level of statistical analysis that normally cannot be performed on conventional MBR testing systems due to time, energy, cost and technical limitations. (C) 2011 Elsevier BM. All rights reserved.