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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.

Description of MBR technology: The Membrane Bioreactor is a simple, but very effective combination of the activated sludge treatment process and the membrane filtration process. Imagine an activated sludge aeration basin, with sets of micro- or ultra-filtration membrane filtration modules submerged in the aeration basins, and you now have MBR. Water Technologies uses a mechanical device that supplies irregular pulses of air to the MBR module. This increases scouring effectiveness, decreases operation and maintenance costs, and reduces energy consumption. The system can be used in with a wide range of municipal and industrial wastewater treatment applications. It can also easily be retrofitted to existing plants wishing to replace conventional clarification processes with membrane separation.device introduces air and mixed liquor into the bottom of the membrane modules through an "airlift effect". The air bubbles blend with the mixed liquor and rise up into membrane fibers, providing effective scouring to the membrane surface and refresh the membrane surface to prevent solids concentration polarization. The two-phase cross-flow reduces scour air energy dramatically. No moving parts are added to the system, decreasing operation and maintenance costs. Additionally, there is no mixed liquor jet lateral, which reduces installation time. Rather, the MemPulse MBR device provides even distribution or air and mixed liquor ensures consistent operating conditions for the membrane modules.

advanced wastewater treatment solution achieves:

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Dependable process performance backed by guarantee Absolute minimum power costs Reliable hands-free operation and reduced operator attendance

Features of smart MBR:


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Reduction in energy costs by 30-40 percent over conventional MBR processes Increased effluent quality in a smaller footprint Maximum automation, 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, membrane filtration system, membrane cleaning system, controlsystem, electrical and mechanical systems. Biochemical systems included anoxic stage and aerobic stage, the returned sludge and mud discharging systems, water quality parameter testing systems etc. Adjusting the aeration volume and drug flow rate of pre-process by on-line detection of dissolved oxygen, pH and other parameters.

Smart MBR:
Smart MBR Controls offers capabilities unmatched by other available systems and delivers unparalleled performance enhanced by system reliability. The integration of SmartMBR Controls into the

Membrane module:
Membrane modules were external pressure submerged hollow fibre membrane. the Hollow fibre membrane was made of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), and it was resistant to sodium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide and other oxidants, at the

same time it had long life performance. We can use common fungicides, such as NaClO and hydrochloric acid, as a bactericidal and membrane cleaning agent. Membrane working pressure was low, and at ranging of 10 ~ 50kPa, so its energy consumption was lower than other technologies.

small perforations or holes in the membranes. Pumps are attached to the membrane modules, and pull a slight vacuum that pulls water from the tank through the perforations in the membranes leaving the microorganisms behind in the tank. Most all of the MBR facilities utilize fine bubble aeration in the aeration tanks, except for those areas that will have the MBR modules. These membrane module areas will usually have coarse bubble diffusers installed beneath them. Some facilities may use the single tank MBR process, or the double tank MBR process. In the single tank the filtration modules are placed near the opposite end from where the primary effluent enters the tank. In a double tank configuration, designers may have an aeration tank without a filtration module in it, followed by an aeration basin with the membrane filtration unit in it. 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. (We obviously do not want to have dissolved organics pass through the membranes.)

The wastewater enters the wastewater treatment facility and passes through the usual Preliminary Treatment, and Primary Treatment processes. 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. This step is designed to reduce the potential fouling of the membranes with these fine particles. The dissolved BOD (sugars, starches, carbohydrates, etc) that is in the wastewater is then consumed by the microbes in the aeration basin, and subsequently converted into additional microorganisms, or becomes attached to the biological floc. The Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS) is usually fairly high in MBR units, around 10,000 mg/L. (I have seen installations as high as 20,000 mg/L, and). This high MLSS concentration allows for lower hydraulic retention times (HRT) which equates to smaller aeration basins. This also equates to an activated sludge that may be fully nitrifying, as the Mean Cell Residence Time (MCRT) is usually well above 10 days. (I have seen installations with MCRTs up to 45 days. Talk about extended aeration ashing!) The microbes are larger than the very

In traditional activated sludge facilities a secondary clarifier(s) follows the aeration

basin which allows for the microbes to settle to the bottom of the tank, and a clarified effluent to leave the clarifier. The MBR process obviously does NOT use a secondary clarifier, as the effluent is far cleaner than that which would be produced by a secondary clarifier. In fact, the membranes produce an effluent (filtrate) that should be given disinfection 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. As such, 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, which allows them to consume almost all of the BOD, convert the BOD into microbes, and have the microbes start consuming each other (endogenous respiration.) Membrane theories:

of long microstrands are bundled together in modules. The strands are set vertically, with the end of end single strand connected either to the top or to the bottom header. Each strand has millions of pores (small openings) that open into the hollow center of each strand. The nominal pore size is 0.04 m. The fiber diameters are: inside 0.9mm, outside 1.9mm. If you have ever seen fly fishing line, the floating type, then you will have an idea of what these fibers look like. With a nominal pore size of 0.04 m, it is easy to see how microbes like the Paramecium with a size of 200 m, and a bacterial cell whose size between 0.5 to 1.0 m is filtered out by the membranes. For reference a fine human hair 30 m. (The symbol for micron or micrometersis m. The pores in the membranes are kept open by installing coarse air bubblers beneath the modules, which help scour the membranes, and by the injection of timed back-blows of air and/or treated water inside the membranes. 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. This is all designed to reduce the potential fouling and plugging of the pores within the strands. There are also "plates" that are being manufactured that perform in much the same manner.

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, thousands

intrinsic viscosity = volume fraction. i.e.MLSS/MLSSmaximum. max= maximum packing density


Eulers Equation VS. MLSS:

Sustainable flux:
Normal steady state operation Tss<= VL Tss = Rate of material transported through membrane surface VL = Shear force. i.e. operating at a sustainable flux.

For given flux to the aeration tank:

 Increasing the MLSS increases Jss.  Increases the MLSS reduces VL.  So increasing MLSS has two compounding effects that increases Rc. Effects on high MLSS : Generally, high MLSS results in membrane sludging due to excessive Rc.Conditions that result in the accumulation of Rc.  Increase MLSS  Increase flux ( Fss )  Decrease VL a. Change in viscosity b. Reduced aeration intensity .TYPES OF MEMBRANE :


Where, = viscosity of suspension


of pure suspending fluid

US Filter :microfiber membranes, 0.4 m pore size, vertical arrangement in off-line tank, air scour and back pulsing; Ionics :microfiber membranes, 0.4 m pore size, horizontal arrangement in aeration tank, air scour and relaxation;

Zenon:microfiber membranes, 0.04 m pore size, vertical arrangement in aeration tank, air scour and relaxation and backpulsing Enviroquip:flat panel membranes, 0.4 m pore size, vertical arrangement in aeration tank, air scour and relaxation; Koch:Hollow fiber membranes, 0.1 m pores, vertical arrangement in membrane tank, intermittent air scour, backflushing;

so that electrical energy is optimized and not wasted.


Insure that you have a method of controlling the treatment process flow rate between banks or trains by automatically controlling weirs, valves, or gates. Often the loading rates vary among parallel treatment trains.

Huber flat panel membranes, 0.025 mm pore size, vertical arrangement on rotating shaft in aeration tank, air scour and spray wash

Insure that the methods of cleaning the MBR membranes to minimize chemical and biological fouling are proven technologies. (This is not the time to be a companys R&D pilot study.)

DESIGN NOTES: Domestic wastewater treatment :

Energy costs also needed to be accurately compared between MBR and the traditional treatment process train when evaluating a particular facility. 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, is the agency or company willing to support this effort financially?) In summary, one also needs to consider more than just the cost. What is the value of this cost? In other words, What does the MBR process, in terms of consistent effluent quality, predictable outcomes, etc., 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,

small footprints:

It is fairly well-known that MBR plants have reduced footprints compared to other activated sludge processes,and the reasons for this are two f o l d . F i r s t , MBR technology eliminates the need for secondary clarifiers, which equates to a huge savings in both footprint and concrete costs. Second, MBR systems can operate at higher biomass concentrations (MLSS) than conventional treatment processes. This difference in biomass concentration leads to much smaller process basins for the MBR system, and when combined with the elimination of secondary clarifiers, results in MBRs having overall plant footprints notably smaller than typical conventional treatment plant. The benefits of a small footprint saving on land and concrete costs, greater installation flexibility, opportunities to effectively hide plants can have a direct impact project feasibility.
Ease of operation :

time focused on the settling characteristics of the sludge at their plant. There are many factors that impact settling characteristics and these can change from one day to the next. Not only does this require time spent in the lab analyzing sludge samples, but also subsequent adjustments to the plant to maintain good settling characteristics. If the sludge doesnt settle into a distinct layer, the plant runs the risk of compromised effluent quality. Again, this lab and plant adjustment work is greatly reduced with an MBR system since settling of sludge is not an issue. Further, to achieve reuse quality water, a conventional treatment plant will need to be followed by a tertiary filtration system. To meet Title 22 requirements, a polymer system will also need to be added to dose the secondary effluent prior to the tertiary filters. This adds additional mechanical equipment and the corresponding capital and O&M costs as well as the need to supply, store, and handle polymer. Finally, the addition of polymer will be variable based on the quality (suspended solids) of the conventional plants secondary effluent. This will require additional operator attention. By comparison, MBR technology does not require tertiary filtration, polymer addition, or any further treatment processes to meet WA, OR, and CA reuse standards for suspended solidsand turbidity. This reduction in the number of unit processes further improves system reliability and reduces process oversight by the operator. ADVANTAGES: 1) The effluent is of very high quality, very low in BOD (less than 5 mg/l), very low in turbidity and suspended solids. The technology produces some of the most predictable water quality known. It is fairly easy to operate as long as the operation has been properly trained, pays strict attention to the proper operation, corrective maintenance, and preventative maintenance tasks.

Ease of operation is often the least appreciated aspect of MBR technology. Put simply, eliminating phase separation (sludge settling) from the process greatly reduces the operator oversight required to keep the system running efficiently. Most operators of activated sludge facilities will tell you they spend the majority of their

2) The simple filtering action of the membranes creates a physical disinfection barrier, which significantly reduces the disinfection requirements. 3) The capitol cost is usually less than for comparable treatment trains. 4) The treatment process also allows for a smaller footprint as there are no secondary clarifiers or tertiary filters which would be required to achieve similar water quality results. It also eliminates the need for a tertiary backwash surge tank, a backwash water storage tank, and for the treatment of the backwash water. 5) Generally speaking it produces less waste activated sludge than a simple conventional system. 6) If re-use is a major water quality goal, the MBR process will be a major consideration. This process produces a consistent, high water quality discharge. When followed by a disinfection process, it allows for a wide range of water re-use applications including landscape irrigation, non-root edible crops, highway median strip and golf course irrigation, and cooling water re-charge. When Reverse Osmosis (RO) water quality is required, the MBR process is an excellent candidate for preparing the water for RO treatment. DISADVANTAGES: 1) The membrane modules will need to be replaced somewhere between five (5) and ten (10) years with the current technology. While the costs have decreased over the past several years, these modules can still be classified as expensive. (Themembranes dry out due to the flexible polymers leaching out, the closing/plugging of the pores, and the membranes becoming somewhat hard or brittle.) These costs are often offset somewhat when life-cycle costs for comparable technologies are examined. If the costs for the membrane

replacement task continue to decrease then over time, then this process is even more financially viable. 2) In most sales pitches the MBR technology is stated as an option of replacing the secondary clarifier. Usually these clarifiers are operated with a single, very low horsepower motor, usually less than 2 HP. The electrical cost for this simple motor is significantly less than the filtrate pumps, chemical feed pumps, compressors, etc., of the MBR system. While this energy cost is significantly higher, the MBR system produces a significantly higher quality effluent that most clarifiers could never achieve. 3) Fouling is troublesome, and its prevention is costly. 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. While this is costly to be sure, future advances into this area will continue to reduce these costs. 4) There may be cleaning solutions that require special handling, treatment, and disposal activities depending on the manufacturer. These cleaning solutions may be classified as hazardous waste depending on local and state regulations.

The global trend is for an increase in the number of MBR installations, largely due to the declining membrane costs and the increasing demand for water. 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. In order to deliver successful MBR projects in Australia, design teams would fully utilise local experience in addition to the experience gained from previous membrane/MBR projects elsewhere in the

world, thereby streamlining the design process and avoiding all of the known pitfalls.