Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) wastewater treatment
Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) is a wastewater treatment process that helps make wastewater re-usable by using a perm-selective membrane in consonance with a biological process like a suspended growth bioreactor.
This technology is widely used in treating wastewater generated by the Hospital and Pharma industries where the level of biological waste is high.
How this helps us city dwellers is that it helps improve the quality of Municipal tap water and boosts the re-use of water and reducing the Footprint of the city.
Let’s take a deeper look at how MBR is able to do all this and ‘More’-
What is MBR Technology?
This wastewater treatment technology uses a membrane as a filter to remove solid waste from the water to put it very simply. Almost all commercial MBR processes available today use the membrane as a filter, rejecting the solid suspended materials in hospital wastewater, for example, and resulting in clear and disinfected water.
The membranes are usually submerged in an aerated biological reactor and the MBR effluent water is suitable for irrigation of golf courses, playfields, and for industrial heating and cooling.
Membrane Bioreactors typically combine conventional biological treatments like activated sludge processes with membrane filtration to provide an advanced level of organic and biological suspended solid filtration.
MBR Application in Wastewater Treatment in Hospitals and the Pharma Sector
Membrane bioreactor technology presents a more efficient system at removing pathological microorganism compared with existing wastewater treatment systems. This is why it’s being adopted by the commercial sectors where bio-waste is a problem- like hospitals and pharma sectors.
In India, the total number of hospitals is growing due to growing population loads. This has lead to a massive increase in the wastewater generated too. The presence of pathogenic microorganisms and viruses in hospital wastewater is a major environmental and public health concern, especially following the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndromes like SARS in 2003 and COVID-19 in 2020.
Hospital wastewater, especially from those treating infectious patients, contains a wide variety of microbial pathogens and viruses, requiring proper treatment and management before being discharged into water bodies.
Hospital wastewater corresponds to approximately 1% of municipal wastewater and this water has to be treated using advanced technologies like MBR that are capable of removing micro-organisms, to avoid polluting freshwater sources of potable water.
MBR has high efficiency, less secondary pollution is easy to operate, and is effective for virus removal for the disinfection of hospital wastewater.
This is because the membrane technology used in MBR is more efficient at removing pathological microorganism compared with other wastewater treatment systems.
Advantages of Using MBR
MBR can effectively save disinfectant consumption, which means the addition of chlorine. MBR shortens the reaction time of the wastewater treatment process, and it inactivates microorganisms.
Higher disinfection efficacy is achieved with less disinfection by-products, in other words. The operating costs are also much lower.
Other MBR benefits are:
- Higher efficiency in pollutant removal
- Excellent effluent quality
- Low/zero sludge production
- Lower turbidity
- Compact size
- Lower energy consumption
Hospital wastewater has long been treated with the conventional wastewater treatment processes, which are designed for the removal of BOD and suspended solids only, but not for pathogens. This is where MBR scores.
MBR treated water has almost no markers of pathogenic microorganisms and viruses, such as Mycoplasma, Chlamydia, Enterovirus, that are present in the hospital effluents.