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Features and Considerations for MBR Wastewater Treatment

MBR can be noted to have received much attention in the recent past as an advanced way of treating water. Membrane filtration complements the biological treatment and has several advantages over the conventional processes. Some considerations, benefits, and features of the MBR wastewater treatment system include the following.

Features of MBR Wastewater Treatment:

Biological Treatment Integration: MBR combines biological treatment which is the activated sludge process with membrane filtration. This combination brings improvement in the efficiency of the wastewater treatment process by acting as a membrane that holds back the solids and microorganisms while at the same time allowing clean water to flow through the membrane.

Compact Footprint: MBR wastewater systems are generally compact and take up less space than traditional systems due to the absence of settling tanks and secondary clarification operations. Compact structures are advantageous, especially in new plants and when retrofitting existing water treatment plants.

High-Quality Effluent: MBR systems harness the membrane filtration to produce effluent that is of high quality and compliant with water quality standards. The membranes filter out suspended solids, pathogens, and particulate organic matter and the water meets set standards for reuse or discharge to suitable water bodies.

Flexible Design: The MBR wastewater system is also flexible, and the technology is applicable in the treatment of different types of wastewater such as municipal, industrial, and decentralized sewage. It is very useful in the treatment of wastewater that contains a higher concentration of organic matter like in food processing industries or residential estates.

Reduced Sludge Production: MBR systems result in less excess sludge compared to the classic activated sludge processes. This is because membranes offer a more effective solid retention, hence less costs of disposal and handling.

Operational Control: MBR systems provide better control of the treatment process in which the operator can achieve better control of the biological treatment of the sludge as well as the control of the operation of the membranes. As a result of this control, system stability is achieved and there is minimal variation in effluent quality.

Flexibility in Plant Layout: MBR wastewater system can be submerged, sidestream, or a combination of the two depending on the specific needs or layout of the facility. Such flexibility enables the accommodation of plant layout and enhances compatibility with other systems or structures.

Resilience to Shock Loads: MBR systems are also less sensitive to shock loads and changes in the qualities of influent as compared to conventional activated sludge processes. The flexible and modular design of the membrane barrier enables consistent biological activity and effluent quality during fluctuations in the organic load or hydraulic flow.

Water Reuse Potential: Consequently, the water treated by MBR systems is safe to use for many water reuse purposes such as irrigation, industrial water, and water reuse into aquifers. This has a positive impact on the sustainable use of water practices and can be construed as lowering the demand for freshwater.

Reduced Footprint for New Developments: There is a preference for Hinada’s MBR technology in new development and urban areas that are constrained by space. This is because it is small in size and effective in treating wastewater to a high level without the required large settling tanks making it suitable for decentralized and ‘fits well into’ urban systems.

Considerations for MBR Wastewater Treatment:

Membrane Fouling: One of the key issues to the MBR wastewater system is membrane fouling where solid suspended particles, microorganisms, and organic matter deposit on the membrane. Fouling can affect filter performance and increase the power consumption. Cleaning and maintenance of membranes is crucial to eliminate fouling hence improving the efficiency of the membranes.

Energy Consumption: MBR systems normally consume energy in the areas of aeration (biological treatment) as well as pumping of the membrane filtration. Operational energy cost which is relatively low when compared with conventional treatment in terms of chemical consumption and sludge volumes produced should however be taken into consideration and optimized.

Capital Costs: MBR systems may initially require a larger capital investment than an equivalent conventional system because of the costs of the membranes and related ancillary equipment, plus the integration of the system. Nevertheless, it can typically be shown through lifecycle costing that using the technology is less costly over the life of the plant in items like chemical consumption and sludge disposal.

System Monitoring and Control: For efficient operation of MBR systems, it is important to have sophisticated monitoring and control mechanisms to achieve optimized performance and adapt to fluctuations in the quality and quantity of influents. Operators should be adequately trained and have real-time data to enable the right decisions and adjustments to be made on time.

System Sizing and Scaling: Correct sizing of the MBR systems needed to be done to allow the treatment plants to modulate peak flows and other characteristics in the wastewater. Some of the considerations involve the type of membrane module, and the flux rate as well as the hydraulic loading to optimize the rate of flow without causing any physical damage to the membrane.

Regulatory Compliance: MBR systems are also required to discharge to compliance standards in terms of treated effluent quality and discharge limits. This is important to ensure compliance and to avoid penalties that are almost inevitable due to a lack of testing and subsequent monitoring.


Hinada’s MBR wastewater system has several advantages over the conventional activated sludge process: high quality of effluent, compactness of the system, and low production of sludge. However, it also poses difficulties like fouling of the membrane, high energy use, and high costs of investing in the equipment. Knowing these features and considerations, stakeholders can approach the assessment of MBR systems and properly consider it as a long-lasting solution for the treatment of wastewater, and its application to the protection of the environment and rational use of water resources.

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