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Submerged Membrane bioreactors (SMBR) using submerged membrane modules are increasingly applied for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment applications. The use of membrane technology in wastewater treatment considerably improves discharged water quality and requires less space as compared to conventional methods. This technology is particularly interesting for countries with water shortages; where the effluent of membrane bioreactor plants could be used for irrigation purposes, process water applications, or as an initial step in the treatment process for indirect potable reuse.

The cost effectiveness of SMBR as compared to conventional technologies is often put in a negative light: Besides the design flux, which strongly effects the investment costs of the total system, the energy consumption and membrane replacement costs are the two main important factors which drive MBR for further optimization of the overall lifecycle costs.

Membrane replacement costs can be reduced by either increasing the membrane longevity or by increasing the operational fluxes. A key factor for achieving higher permeate fluxes and reduced energy consumption is an effective “solids management” within the membrane modules, i.e. the reliable removal of all substances, such as hair, sludge and fibrous material. This also guarantees a stable, reliable and above all sustainable operation of SMBR plants. Due to high biological solids concentrations and the unavoidable presence of inert debris build-up in the system, plus the operational requirement of low trans membrane pressure, the challenges associated with the design of submerged membrane modules has almost become an art form.

This presentation explains the importance of solid management using the example of the submerged PURON membrane system. The operating experiences of municipal and industrial MBR plants with PURON modules will show the practical implementation of the new and optimised submerged membrane module concept.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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