A new air control system in membrane bioreactors allows energy savings of 20%

The new technology, developed on the thesis of researcher Giuliana Ferrero at LEQUIA lab, has resulted in a patent which the University of Girona has half the rights.

The increasingly restrictive legislation regarding the preservation of natural water bodies and the removal of pollutants, which affect the industrial and domestic wastewater treatment, has been the main reason to install Membrane BioReactors (MBR). This technology gets high quality effluents with very low suspended solids concentrations. It becomes an excellent source of reclaimed water. Other reasons that allowed the development of the MBR technology are: the lack of water, lower installation costs, small environmental impact and the public acceptance of the technology.

Technological innovations and the reducing cost of membranes have made ??it possible for MBR to become a good option for wastewater treatment. Also, it has allowed the installation of new MBR plants, which have experienced an important growth since the mid-nineties. The European market is one of the most important ones, with the 21% of the total MBR business.

However, the technology cannot be considered competitive yet when compared with conventional treatment systems because of the high air consumption, which is needed for the membranes cleaning. Much of the current research activity in this field emphases on trying to minimize the costs, focusing attention on the membrane module design and, in some cases, led to commercial solutions for lessening the use of air.

Yet, there is a need for robust control systems which are able to reduce ventilation requirements of the membrane, with optimal filtration performance. Membrane aeration, as a key factor in the MBR performance costs, is a fundamental aspect of this thesis. The work includes the development and implementation of a new robust control system based on permeability and at the same time, capable of reducing the ventilation flow in proportion to the permeability.

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Proyecto financiado por el Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte en el marco del Programa Campus de Excelencia Internacional

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