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High Flux and Low Fouling Vibratory Membrane for Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactors

Technology Overview

This innovative technology is a Vibratory-Stirring (VS) membrane module for submerged anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs), which can control membrane fouling and also mix the biosolids within the reactor for both domestic and industrial wastewater treatment. The technology takes advantage of membrane filtration and anaerobic processes to treat high strength wastewater. In addition, the anaerobic digestion results in low sludge volume and produces biogas for energy generation. The membrane module incorporates transversely vibrating hollow fibre membranes, and special structural features for additional stirring and turbulence generation. The fouling control is achieved by the combination of vibratory shear stresses and turbulence, together with turbulent mixing of biosolids inside the reactor. The technology will allow for high permeate flux and long membrane filtration operation time in anaerobic membrane bioreactors.  The concept has been proven in an anaerobic reactor with high strength wastewater for a continuous 10-month operation, without any backwash or chemical wash of the membranes.

Technology Features & Specifications

The vibratory-stirring membrane technology has the following technology features:

  • Transverse vibration of hollow fibres that produces shear stresses on the membrane surface to reduce membrane fouling
  • Special structural features to induce turbulence for both the mixing of biosolids and further reduction of membrane fouling.
  • Targeted operating characteristics that result in low operating energy consumption as well as long time membrane filtration in anaerobic bioreactors without backwash or chemical cleaning for the membranes

Potential Applications

The technology provides an effective biological treatment with organics reduction for high strength wastewater in anaerobic membrane bioreactors for extended periods, without backwash and chemical cleaning.

The vibratory-stirring technology can be applied to most membrane applications which have challenging feed waters with high fouling potential. The technology itself is independent of the brand of membrane supplier.

Market Trends and Opportunities

According to a Frost and Sullivan report on “Global Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Market” (2013), the global market size of membrane bioreactors (including both aerobic and anaerobic) was worth $838.2 million in 2011. The demand for new built investment in membrane-based used water treatment facility will also increase rapidly from the fast growing markets of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. In particular, submerged anaerobic membrane bioreactors have the distinct advantage of small footprint, high effluent quality, high volumetric loading rate, low sludge production and most importantly biogas production. Their applications, particularly towards the treatment of high strength industrial wastewater, are thus highly anticipated in the industry.  The current invention offers a viable alternative for fouling control in AnMBRs, which is a very critical issue because membrane cleaning is much more difficult inside anaerobic reactors.

Customer Benefits

  • Using the technology, AnMBRs can be operated for an extended period without backwash or chemical cleaning of the membranes.
  • AnMBRs can be operated at higher permeate fluxes and with higher strength wastewater, compared to the standard approach for fouling control using biogas sparging.
  • Using the technology, AnMBRs can be operated with greater energy efficiency compared to the standard approach for fouling control using biogas sparging.
  • Long time operation without significant membrane fouling or replacement of membranes prolongs membrane lifetime.
  • Small amount of solid waste generation reduces the cost for solid waste treatment. 

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