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MBR global capacity

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Simon Judd
Simon Judd

Professor Simon Judd has over 30 years’ post-doctorate experience in all aspects of water and wastewater treatment technology, both in academic and industrial R&D. He has (co-)authored six book titles and over 200 peer-reviewed publications in water and wastewater treatment.

In his capacity as director of Judd Water & Wastewater Consultants, Simon is co-owner of The MBR, as well as of our sister website He is Professor in Membrane Technology at the Cranfield Water Science Institute at Cranfield University in the UK where he has been a staff member since 1992. Simon was also a Research Chair at Qatar University in the Middle East for six years until September 2018.

Of all the questions that crop up about MBR technology, perhaps the most frequent is, 'What is the global capacity of MBR treatment technology?' Of course, as with most questions of this nature, the honest answer is, 'I don’t know'.

However, as a seasoned academic, this shouldn't stop me from making an inappropriately wild guess, in the knowledge that this estimate is likely to acquire the thin veneer of academic credibility and subsequently be widely quoted by anyone interested in such matters as established fact. However, this laxity does not sit well with my scrupulously (tedious) analytical proclivities.

The last time I was mulling this over with an acquaintance well experienced within the sector, I think we agreed that the global capacity of MBRs probably stood at about 12 GLD (gigalitres per day, or millions of cubic metres per day). This was about as far as we managed to get on the basis of some random anecdotal evidence, a few stray figures from major international suppliers, and the tried-and-tested protocol of waving a wet finger in the air. However, there is a lot that goes on in the world which the likes of me never get to hear about.

What is the global capacity of MBR treatment technology? The honest answer is, ‘I don’t know’

As it transpires, this estimate is almost certainly woefully below the mark. A recent exchange of communications with Origin Water of Beijing reveals that their installations alone account for ~3 GLD capacity, while those of only the largest of the GE plants (those over 100 MLD in capacity) amount to an impressive 3.7 GLD.

Both these figures include plants under contract or construction such as the massive plant planned for Henriksdal near Stockholm, which will apparently weigh in at 864 LMD.

So even if only the known plants of 100 MLD capacity or greater are considered, the total capacity provided, based on 38 plants, is in the region of 6.6 GLD. If other established known large plants (those between 40 and 100 MLD) are added then this figure increases to something in the region of 8 GLD. This capacity relates to perhaps no more than 70 plants, yet it is known that there are thousands of MBRs globally that have capacities down to as low as a few cubic metres a day.

So, back to the original question, what’s the total global capacity of MBR technology? Well, if I knew that, I’d tell you.


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This page was last updated on 08 June 2021


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