Simultaneous Minimization of Membrane Area and Energy Consumption in a Combined Membrane/Biological Process

By Ben Gould


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When combining membrane and biological processes to produce membrane quality effluent, the membrane bioreactor (MBR) concept has emerged as a familiar option. By definition, an MBR exposes the membrane directly to highly concentrated (approximately 10,000 milligrams per liter [mg/L]) wastewater mixed liquor, which contains small, dispersed, highly fouling particles. As expected, this creates tremendous membrane fouling problems that must be mitigated. Various combinations of high membrane area, high energy consumption, ultra fine pre-screening, and large equalization basins are used in an effort to lessen membrane fouling. The resulting economic and environmental costs associated with mitigating membrane fouling in the MBR process are not sustainable. A general recognition of these fundamental issues can be seen in the content of current conferences, where membrane fouling problems associated with the MBR process are a common topic.

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