Channel clogging in membrane bioreactors

Chemical cleans barely touch clogged material which fills membrane channels. Simon Judd discusses

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About MBRs

A membrane bioreactor (MBR) is a wastewater treatment process where a perm-selective membrane is integrated with a biological process – a suspended growth bioreactor.

A membrane bioreactor is essentially a version of the conventional activated sludge (CAS) system. Whereas the CAS process uses a secondary clarifier or settlement tank for solid/liquid separation, an MBR uses a membrane. This provides a number of advantages relating to process control and product water quality.

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Municipal & industrial treatment

There is no significant difference in the design of the MBR technology for a process treating industrial rather than municipal wastewater. The key differences between the two applications are that, for industrial effluents, there are:

  • higher concentrations of organic matter
  • more temporal variation in the concentrations of pollutants (seasonally and diurnally)
  • very significant variations across different industrial sectors, the most biorefactory effluents being from landfill leachate applications
  • no requirement for the removal of pathogenic micro-organisms, unless the effluent is combined with a sewage stream.

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MBR costs

A full needs analysis is required before selecting a membrane bioreactor system, first of all to confirm that an MBR will be the most cost effective solution for a particular requirement, taking everything into account. Secondly, to ensure an MBR is the most appropriate choice of technology for the circumstances.

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Design and Operation

Operation and maintenance (O&M) parameters for an MBR include:

  • membrane side − flux, pressure, permeability, recovery, membrane aeration rate, and physical and chemical cleaning cycle times and protocols, and
  • biological side − hydraulic and solids retention time, and sludge recycle rate(s).

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The disinfection capability of MBRs: credit where credit’s due

Stephen Katz of SUEZ et al. discuss pathogen removal in MBRs

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How advanced CFD modelling accelerates and improves the design and scale-up of membrane applications

Wim Audenaert et al present three very different membrane-related examples to illustrate the concept of advanced CFD

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