MBR building blocks

As with a conventional biological wastewater treatment process, an MBR is a combination of tanks, pipework, pumps and blowers, with the addition of the membrane differentiating it from classical processes.

A simple design of a small MBR has been provided by Lo et al (2015). This is a general design for a municipal wastewater treatment based on an immersed membrane and an MLE (modified LudzackEttinger) process. The specifications of the individual pieces of equipment (power, flow and/or pressure ratings) then depend on the application and assumptions made.

Most MBR installations must also include a control system for regulating flows and pressures.

Figure 1.  Components of an MBR plant | About Mbrs Simon Judd Mbr Plant Components
Figure 1. Components of an MBR plant
Table 1: MBR plant components and design basis.
Category Component(s) ID Description/purpose
Tanks Raw water T1 Storage tank for inlet wastewater
Primary sedimentation T2 Removal of gross, settleable solids
Equalisation (EQ) T3 Equalisation of flow
Anoxic (Ax) T4 Denitrification
Aeration (Ae) T5 Nitrification and biological oxidation
Membrane T6 Membrane separation
Treated water T7 Storage of permeate water
Sludge T8 Storage of wasted sludge
Chemicals storage T9, T10
Pumps Settled sludge transfer P1 Submerged, settled sludge to sludge storage tank
Feed P2 EQ tank through rotary screen
Permeate P3 Self-priming, membrane suction filtration
Sludge return/discharge P4 Submerged, sludge recirculation and excess
Sludge transfer P5 WAS to dewatering
Chemicals P6, P7 Cleaning chemicals transfer to membrane, x2
Blower Process B1 Biological process aeration
Membrane B2 Membrane scouring
Mixer EQ tank mixer X1 High speed, equalisation tank
Ax tank mixer X2 Low speed, anoxic tank
Screen Rotary screen S1 Fine screening of feed
Membrane Membrane module M1 FS membrane plus frame with built-in aerator
Diffusers Fine bubble diffuser D1 Process aeration
Coarse bubble diffuser D2 Membrane aeration


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Lo, C.-H., McAdam, E., and Judd, S. (2015). The cost of a small membrane bioreactor, Water Sci Technol 72(10) 17391746.


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