Cost comparison of full-scale water reclamation technologies with an emphasis on membrane bioreactors

How do the costs for an MBR compare with costs for conventional activated sludge (CAS) technologies? Iglesias et al report on their experience in Spain

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Euromembrane 2018: Our report

Euromembrane 2018, the conference of the European Membrane Society, was hosted by the Universitat Polytècnica de València in Spain’s truly beautiful third city from 9−13 July. The MBR Site reports.

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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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An assessment of full-scale CAS vs MBR technologies

Bertanz et al conducted a comparative environmental, techno-economic and social acceptance assessment based on full-scale plant data from the 250,000 PE WWTP at Brescia-Verziano, fitted with both MBR and CAS lines

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MBR screen designs and performance – an overview

James Impero, Senior Engineering Specialist, Municipal Global, and Kevin Hammler, Field Service Technician, Ovivo USA, LLC summarise the different designs of MBR screens in use today

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