You are on page 1of 9

Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) inWastewater Treatment






The development and application of a membrane bioreactor (MBR) for fullscalemunicipal wastewater treatment is the most important recent technological advance in terms of biological wastewater treatment. The MBR is a suspended growth-activated sludge system that utilizes microporous membranes for solid/liquid separation instead of secondary clarifiers. It represents a decisive step forward concerning effluent quality by delivering a hygienically pure effluent and by exhibiting a very high operational reliability. Advanced MBR wastewater treatment technology is being successfully applied at an ever-increasing number of locations around the world.In
conclusion, MBR represents an efficient and costeffective process that copes excellently with

the growing needs for transforming wastewaterinto clean water that can be returned to the hydrological cycle without detrimentaleffects.

Membrane bioreactors (MBRs) are a relatively new wastewater treatment technology which promises exceptional treatment efficiency and a reduced footprint compared to conventional treatment process trains. MBRs may be particularly well suited to situations in which water recycling is required or desired including satellite reclamation

(sewer mining). MBRs are quite simply an activated sludge process in which the conventional secondary clarifier is replaced by a membrane separation process (either microfiltration or ultrafiltration). The MBR can be operated either with or without primary clarification, but always requires fine screening (3 mm or smaller) to protect the membranes from abrasive and stringy waste components (hair in particular). Due to the presence of an absolute barrier for suspended solids, MBRs are able to maintain very high solids concentrations (8,000 to 20,000 mg/L) and solids retention times which allows for smaller aeration basins and high BOD removals. Since MBR effluent is micro- or ultrafiltration permeate, effluent suspended solids are typically near the detection limit and turbidities are typically less than 0.2 NTU. As with other membrane systems, the most important characteristics are the membrane flux and the membrane permeability both of which are highly temperature dependent (lowest temperature controls design). Flux is often expressed as gallons permeated per day per square foot of membrane area (GFD) and permeability is usually the clean water flux per unit transmembrane pressure (TMP). With correct process design, MBRs can accomplish the same things as any activated sludge process including BOD removal, nitrification, DE nitrification, and biological phosphorus removal.

electrical and mechanical systems. Water Technologies uses a mechanical device that supplies irregular pulses of air to the MBR module. which reduces installation time. and it was resistant to sodium hypochlorite. at the . providing effective scouring to the membrane surface and refresh the membrane surface to prevent solids concentration polarization. minimal operator requirements and guaranteed system reliability made possible by SmartMBR Controls Low effluent turbidity and significantly reduced sludge yield Expert process support for design and integration Greater than 90 percent biosolids reduction System structure The system included biochemical system. pH and other parameters. chlorine dioxide and other oxidants. and reduces energy consumption.or ultra-filtration membrane filtration modules submerged in the aeration basins. Rather. decreases operation and maintenance costs. The two-phase cross-flow reduces scour air energy dramatically. membrane cleaning system. the MemPulse MBR device provides even distribution or air and mixed liquor ensures consistent operating conditions for the membrane modules. the returned sludge and mud discharging systems. but very effective combination of the activated sludge treatment process and the membrane filtration process. membrane filtration system. The air bubbles blend with the mixed liquor and rise up into membrane fibers. No moving parts are added to the system. advanced wastewater treatment solution achieves: y y y Dependable process performance backed by guarantee Absolute minimum power costs Reliable hands-free operation and reduced operator attendance Features of smart MBR: y y y y y y Reduction in energy costs by 30-40 percent over conventional MBR processes Increased effluent quality in a smaller footprint Maximum automation. there is no mixed liquor jet lateral.device introduces air and mixed liquor into the bottom of the membrane modules through an "airlift effect". The system can be used in with a wide range of municipal and industrial wastewater treatment applications. decreasing operation and maintenance costs. and you now have MBR. Adjusting the aeration volume and drug flow rate of pre-process by on-line detection of dissolved oxygen. the Hollow fibre membrane was made of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). Smart MBR: Smart MBR Controls offers capabilities unmatched by other available systems and delivers unparalleled performance enhanced by system reliability. water quality parameter testing systems etc.Description of MBR technology: The Membrane Bioreactor is a simple. with sets of micro. It can also easily be retrofitted to existing plants wishing to replace conventional clarification processes with membrane separation. This increases scouring effectiveness. Biochemical systems included anoxic stage and aerobic stage. Additionally. controlsystem. The integration of SmartMBR Controls into the Membrane module: Membrane modules were external pressure submerged hollow fibre membrane. Imagine an activated sludge aeration basin.

and at ranging of 10 ~ 50kPa. so its energy consumption was lower than other technologies.000 mg/L. etc) that is in the wastewater is then consumed by the microbes in the aeration basin. (I have seen installations with MCRT¶s up to 45 days. and subsequently converted into additional microorganisms. as the Mean Cell Residence Time (MCRT) is usually well above 10 days. This high MLSS concentration allows for lower hydraulic retention times (HRT) which equates to smaller aeration basins. as a bactericidal and membrane cleaning agent. Some facilities may use the single tank MBR process. This step is designed to reduce the potential fouling of the membranes with these fine particles.same time it had long life performance. designers may have an aeration tank without a filtration module in it. (We obviously do not want to have dissolved organics pass through the membranes. The dissolved BOD (sugars. The Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS) is usually fairly high in MBR units. These membrane module areas will usually have coarse bubble diffusers installed beneath them. (I have seen installations as high as 20. Some facilities then place fine screens (opening are less than 2mm in diameter) prior to the MBR reactors to remove small suspended particles such as human hair. carbohydrates. and pull a slight vacuum that pulls water from the tank through the perforations in the membranes leaving the microorganisms behind in the tank. Membrane working pressure was low. starches. This also equates to an activated sludge that may be fully nitrifying. The treatment process goal in both designs is to allow for suitable time for the conversion of BOD/COD into microbial cells or at least be absorbed/flocculated with the cellular masses prior to being placed near the membrane filtration units. or becomes attached to the biological floc. or the double tank MBR process. We can use common fungicides. Most all of the MBR facilities utilize fine bubble aeration in the aeration tanks. In a double tank configuration.) The wastewater enters the wastewater treatment facility and passes through the usual Preliminary Treatment. Talk about ³extended aeration ashing!´) The microbes are larger than the very In ³traditional activated sludge facilities´ a secondary clarifier(s) follows the aeration . and). In the single tank the filtration modules are placed near the opposite end from where the primary effluent enters the tank.000 mg/L. around 10. such as NaClO and hydrochloric acid. small ³perforations´ or ³holes´ in the membranes. followed by an aeration basin with the membrane filtration unit in it. except for those areas that will have the MBR modules. Pumps are attached to the membrane modules. and Primary Treatment processes.

basin which allows for the microbes to settle to the bottom of the tank.5 to 1. it is easy to see how microbes like the ³Paramecium´ with a size of 200 µm. which help scour the membranes. the membranes produce an effluent (filtrate) that should be given ³disinfection credits!´ The membrane filtration process produces an effluent extremely low in suspended solids concentration and turbidity units MBR process works best if it is a fully nitrifying process. (The symbol for micron or micrometersis ³µm. convert the BOD into microbes. with the end of end single strand connected either to the top or to the bottom header.04 µm. y Membrane flux controls the rate of material transported to the membrane surface The shear force controls the rate at which rejected materials is resuspentedto the bulk solution The Membrane Bioreactors In the one membrane bioreactor installation I am familiar with. There are also "plates" that are being manufactured that perform in much the same manner. and a bacterial cell whose size between 0.9mm. In fact.0 µm is ³filtered out´ by the membranes. and by the injection of timed back-blows of air and/or treated water inside the membranes. Each strand has millions of ³pores´ (small openings) that open into the hollow center of each strand.9mm. as the effluent is far cleaner than that which would be produced by a secondary clarifier. If you have ever seen fly fishing line. the floating type. one of the benefits of nitrification is the lower sludge production that results from keeping the microbes under aeration for a longer period of time. A routine schedule of backwashing and chemical treatment (usually injection of a chlorine bleach solution) is also incorporated into the routine maintenance of the modules. which allows them to consume almost all of the BOD. The MBR process obviously does NOT use a secondary clarifier. and have the microbes start consuming each other (endogenous respiration. The fiber diameters are: inside 0. outside 1.´ The pores in the membranes are kept open by installing coarse air bubblers beneath the modules. thousands . For reference a fine human hair 30 µm. then you will have an idea of what these fibers look like. and a ³clarified effluent´ to leave the clarifier.04 µm. As such. This is all designed to reduce the potential fouling and plugging of the pores within the strands. With a nominal pore size of 0. The nominal pore size is 0. The strands are set vertically.) Membrane theories: y of long microstrands are bundled together in modules.

4 µm pore size.MLSS/MLSSmaximum. i. Change in viscosity b. operating at a sustainable flux.Conditions that result in the accumulation of Rc.e. Ionics :microfiber membranes. 0.  So increasing MLSS has two compounding effects that increases Rc. For given flux to the aeration tank:  Increasing the MLSS increases Jss. i. vertical arrangement in off-line tank. high MLSS results in membrane ³sludging´ due to excessive Rc. Reduced aeration intensity . horizontal arrangement in aeration tank.e. 0.  Increase MLSS  Increase flux ( Fss )  Decrease VL a.intrinsic viscosity = volume fraction. air scour and back pulsing. MLSS: Sustainable flux: Normal steady state operation Tss<= VL Tss = Rate of material transported through membrane surface VL = Shear force.  Increases the MLSS reduces VL. . = viscosity of suspension y 0=viscosity of pure suspending fluid US Filter :microfiber membranes. air scour and relaxation. max= maximum packing density i= Euler¶s Equation VS.TYPES OF MEMBRANE : y EILER¶SEQATIONS: Where. Effects on high MLSS : Generally.4 µm pore size.

predictable outcomes. backflushing. so that electrical energy is optimized and not wasted.1 µm pores. (This is not the time to be a company¶s R&D pilot study. . vertical arrangement in membrane tank. or gates. Huber flat panel membranes.4 µm pore size. is the agency or company willing to support this effort financially?) In summary.04 µm pore size. y Insure that you have a method of controlling the treatment process flow rate between banks or trains by automatically controlling weirs. Koch:Hollow fiber membranes. one also needs to consider more than ³just the cost. etc. vertical arrangement on rotating shaft in aeration tank. ³What does the MBR process. 0. air scour and spray wash y Insure that the methods of cleaning the MBR membranes to minimize chemical and biological fouling are proven technologies. air scour and relaxation. vertical arrangement in aeration tank. 0.. Often the loading rates vary among parallel treatment trains. intermittent air scour.´ What is the ³value´ of this cost? In other words. air scour and relaxation and backpulsing Enviroquip:flat panel membranes. 0. Is the operations and maintenance staff capable of operating and maintaining this more complex treatment process given the additional training and support that is required for this process? (That is a nice way of saying. in terms of consistent effluent quality.) DESIGN NOTES: Domestic wastewater treatment : Energy cost¶s also needed to be accurately compared between MBR and the traditional treatment process train when evaluating a particular facility. valves. that conventional treatment trains do or do not?´ Make sure you have a method of controlling the dissolved oxygen concentration in each cell with an automatic air balance in each aeration cell.y y y Zenon:microfiber membranes. vertical arrangement in aeration tank. 0.025 mm pore size.

and CA reuse standards for suspended solidsand turbidity. F i r s t . There are many factors that impact settling characteristics and these can change from one day to the next. corrective maintenance. Put simply. This difference in biomass concentration leads to much smaller process basins for the MBR system. a polymer system will also need to be added to dose the secondary effluent prior to the tertiary filters. and handle polymer. store. results in MBRs having overall plant footprints notably smaller than typical conventional treatment plant. or any further treatment processes to meet WA. This will require additional operator attention. Not only does this require time spent in the lab analyzing sludge samples. The benefits of a small footprint ± saving on land and concrete costs. pays strict attention to the proper operation.small footprints: It is fairly well-known that MBR plants have reduced footprints compared to other activated sludge processes. To meet Title 22 requirements. Finally. opportunities to effectively hide plants ± can have a direct impact project feasibility. very low in turbidity and suspended solids. By comparison. greater installation flexibility. Most operators of activated sludge facilities will tell you they spend the majority of their . Ease of operation : time focused on the settling characteristics of the sludge at their plant. very low in BOD (less than 5 mg/l). Again. to achieve reuse quality water. This reduction in the number of unit processes further improves system reliability and reduces process oversight by the operator. and when combined with the elimination of secondary clarifiers. ADVANTAGES: 1) The effluent is of very high quality. but also subsequent adjustments to the plant to maintain good settling characteristics. Ease of operation is often the least appreciated aspect of MBR technology. If the sludge doesn¶t settle into a distinct layer. the plant runs the risk of compromised effluent quality. MBR systems can operate at higher biomass concentrations (MLSS) than conventional treatment processes. Second. MBR technology does not require tertiary filtration. this lab and plant adjustment work is greatly reduced with an MBR system since settling of sludge is not an issue. which equates to a huge savings in both footprint and concrete costs. eliminating phase separation (sludge settling) from the process greatly reduces the operator oversight required to keep the system running efficiently. polymer addition. and preventative maintenance tasks. a conventional treatment plant will need to be followed by a tertiary filtration system. It is fairly easy to operate as long as the operation has been properly trained. OR. MBR technology eliminates the need for secondary clarifiers. Further. This adds additional mechanical equipment ± and the corresponding capital and O&M costs ± as well as the need to supply.and the reasons for this are two f o l d . The technology produces some of the most predictable water quality known. the addition of polymer will be variable based on the quality (suspended solids) of the conventional plant¶s secondary effluent.

2) The ³simple filtering action´ of the membranes creates a physical disinfection barrier. compressors. high water quality discharge. highway median strip and golf course irrigation. treatment. it allows for a wide range of water re-use applications including landscape irrigation. (Themembranes ³dry out´ due to the flexible polymers leaching out. future advances into this area will continue to reduce these costs. CONCLUSION : The global trend is for an increase in the number of MBR installations.) These costs are often offset somewhat when life-cycle costs for comparable technologies are examined. usually less than 2 HP. and disposal activities depending on the manufacturer. This process produces a consistent. When Reverse Osmosis (RO) water quality is required. the MBR process will be a major consideration. While this is costly to be sure. When followed by a disinfection process. non-root edible crops.. of the MBR system. Several papers and research endeavors have concluded that up to two-thirds of the chemical and energy costs in an MBR facility are directly attributable to reducing membrane fouling. and cooling water re-charge. and its prevention is costly. the MBR system produces a significantly higher quality effluent that most clarifiers could never achieve. These cleaning solutions may be classified as hazardous waste depending on local and state regulations. 3) Fouling is troublesome. design teams would fully utilise local experience in addition to the experience gained from previous membrane/MBR projects elsewhere in the . While this energy cost is significantly higher. If the costs for the membrane replacement task continue to decrease then over time. 6) If re-use is a major water quality goal. DISADVANTAGES: 1) The membrane modules will need to be replaced somewhere between five (5) and ten (10) years with the current technology. It also eliminates the need for a tertiary backwash surge tank. and the membranes becoming somewhat hard or brittle. 3) The capitol cost is usually less than for comparable treatment trains. While the costs have decreased over the past several years. and for the treatment of the backwash water. etc. It appears that the projects most likely to favour MBR have an alignment of factors such as a requirement for reduced plant footprint coupled with a need for high quality reuse water. then this process is even more financially viable. chemical feed pumps. largely due to the declining membrane costs and the increasing demand for water. 5) Generally speaking it produces less waste activated sludge than a simple conventional system. which significantly reduces the disinfection requirements. 4) The treatment process also allows for a smaller ³footprint´ as there are no secondary clarifiers or tertiary filters which would be required to achieve similar water quality results. Usually these clarifiers are operated with a single. The electrical cost for this simple motor is significantly less than the filtrate pumps. a backwash water storage tank. 2) In most sales pitches the MBR technology is stated as an option of replacing the secondary clarifier. the closing/plugging of the pores. the MBR process is an excellent candidate for preparing the water for RO treatment. In order to deliver successful MBR projects in Australia. these modules can still be classified as expensive. very low horsepower motor. 4) There may be cleaning solutions that require special handling.

. thereby streamlining the design process and avoiding all of the known