Industrial MBRs − an introduction

Membrane bioreactors have been applied to treat effluent in a number of industrial sectors, including among others:

Industrial versus municipal 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, which also tend to be more biorefractory (i.e. less biodegradable) than in municipal effluent,
  • more temporal variation in the concentrations of pollutants, both seasonally and diurnally (i.e. across a daily cycle) than for municipal effluent,
  • very significant variations across the different industrial sectors, with the least biorefactory effluents from the food and beverage industry and the most biorefactory from landfill leachate applications,
  • no requirement for the removal of pathogenic micro-organisms, unless the effluent is combined with a sewage stream. The significant variations in concentration usually demand equalisation of 8−24 hours to ensure that the biological process is not exposed to shock loads or organic matter. Pretreatment may also be necessary if the feed water contains significant amounts of free oil, which might otherwise irreversibly foul the membrane. Against this, screening (to remove coarse solids) is generally less important.


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Charles Norris

Looking for a MBR Training class with 12 CEU's

Claire JuddCharles Norris

Hi Charles,

We supply bespoke training in MBRs:

but this does not accrue CEUs. We provide an attendance certificate and, although we cannot guarantee acceptance, you may be able to submit this certificate to your State Water Environment Association for continuing professional development accreditation purposes.

Otherwise, we suggest you put a question on The MBR Forum on - someone may be able to recommend a suitable provider.

CharlesCharles Norris

That is fine I would still like to attend a training session.

Claire JuddCharles

We are actually running the Practical MBRs course (4 hours) tomorrow 26th Feb for the American market. We only have two spaces left. If this is of interest, please let me know on and I can reserve you a space:


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