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Operational Review of the North Head Membrane Bioreactor in Sydney, Australia

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The North Head Membrane Bioreactor is situated at the 400 megalitre per day (ML/d) North Head Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) just north of Sydney Harbour. The main treatment plant provides preliminary and primary treatment prior to discharging via a 5km ocean outfall. Until recently, the plant has been using from 1 to 1.5 ML/d of potable water as equipment service water for the screens, sprays and solids processing. To conserve potable water supplies, Sydney Water went out to tender for a reuse plant at the site to produce up to 2 ML/d of recycled water for site services. The winning tender was based on the membrane bioreactor technology (MBR) using Memcor's proprietary membrane operating system (Memjet), constructed and commissioned in 2005 by CH2M Hill. Since its commissioning, including a rigorous 150 day proving period, the 2 ML/d MBR has performed consistently, meeting all effluent quality requirements, and is exhibiting a high level of equipment reliability with minimal operator attention.

The aims of this paper are to provide a review of process data which continue to validate the process design and modelling tools, as well as discuss operational experiences and performance of key design features after one year of operation. The status of progress in the potential application of the MBR effluent for off-site recycling is also depicted. This paper demonstrates that MBRs are a viable technology in Australia for treating domestic sewage and given our current climate, are certainly worthy of consideration for managing and conserving our water resources.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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