China features many of the largest municipal wastewater MBRs in the world. Apart from their capacity, some also are ambitious in their construction. The below-ground installation at Kunming City, commissioned in 2012, is one such example. At an ADF (average daily flow) capacity of 150,000 m3/d and a peak daily flow of 195,000 m3/d, it is a substantial plant.
Operational costs in MBRs are marginally higher than those of conventional activated sludge (CAS). Firstly, permeating water through a membrane demands energy. In the case of the immersed technologies (iMBRs) this means that the overall specific aeration demand (SAD) is higher, since air is needed both for maintaining the process biology in the aeration tank and scouring the immersed membrane.
In membrane separation systems, it is probably shear which is the most significant parameter for driving the membrane process. Pressure is obviously important for forcing the water through the membrane but shear is arguably the property of the system which largely determines the rate of membrane fouling and so, ultimately, the flux.
In 2012, the Arla milk powder factory in Sweden planned to expand operations. The increased production process generated larger wastewater volumes which the receiving municipal treatment plant was unable to process. Therefore, the dairy decided to build their own treatment plant on site, which needed to be installed within a short period of time and meet strict discharge requirements.
In autumn 2015, after two years of research and development, Pentair brought to market its new ‘Helix’ product. An enhancement to X-Flow tubular membrane technology, Helix features a helically-winding ridge on the inside of the membrane which is designed to tackle cake build-up and enhance flux. The technology has so far been tested on both industrial effluents and municipal wastewater.