MBRs are generally grouped into three technology configurations:
- flat sheet (FS)
- hollow fibre (HF) and
- multitube or multichannel (MT/MC).
Each of the configurations has tended to be better suited for particular applications, so the choice of configuration is important when considering selecting MBR technology for a particular use.
In general terms, it appears that flat sheet membranes are used almost exclusively for immersed MBRs for both industrial and municipal applications, where they are sometimes favoured for smaller installations on the basis of their operational simplicity.
Hollow fiber membranes are used almost exclusively for immersed MBRs, both for industrial and municipal applications, where they are often favoured for larger installations on the basis of their lower membrane aeration energy demand.
The pumped multitube systems are often favoured for treating small effluent flows from industrial installations on the basis of their robustness and operational flexibility and control. The air-lift multitube system competes with FS and HF immersed systems.
A multichannel technology normally comprises a rectangular or square channel in a ceramic “monolith” membrane, a monolith being a single piece of material formed into an MC module. These modules are employed in the same way as multi-tube membranes.