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.
Foaming of conventional activated sludge (CAS) is very common. It may happen during start-up due to the presence of surfactants, with insufficient biomass to degrade them during the early stages. However, this is normally a short-term issue. These foams (from surfactant foaming) are mostly white and can be countered with anti-foamants until there are sufficient biomass developed to degrade them.