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Environ Technol. 2011 Jul;32(9-10):921-32.

Modelling the energy demands of aerobic and anaerobic membrane bioreactors for wastewater treatment.

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Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain.


A modelling study has been developed in which the energy requirements of aerobic and anaerobic membrane bioreactors (MBRs) are assessed in order to compare these two wastewater treatment technologies. The model took into consideration the aeration required for biological oxidation in aerobic MBRs (AeMBRs), the energy recovery from methane production in anaerobic MBRs (AnMBRs) and the energy demands of operating submerged and sidestream membrane configurations. Aeration and membrane energy demands were estimated based on previously developed modelling studies populated with operational data from the literature. Given the difference in sludge production between aerobic and anaerobic systems, the model was benchmarked by assuming high sludge retention times or complete retention of solids in both AeMBRs and AnMBRs. Analysis of biogas production in AnMBRs revealed that the heat required to achieve mesophilic temperatures (35 degrees C) in the reactor was only possible with influent wastewater strengths above 4-5 g COD L(-1). The general trend of the submerged configuration, which is less energy intensive than the sidestream configuration in aerobic systems, was not observed in AnMBRs, mainly due to the wide variation in gas demand utilized in anaerobic systems. Compared to AeMBRs, for which the energy requirements were estimated to approach 2 kWh m(-3) (influent up to 1 g COD L(-1)), the energy demands associated with fouling control in AnMBRs were lower (0.80 kWh m(-3) for influent of 1.14 g COD L(-1)), although due to the low fluxes reported in the literature capital costs associated with membrane material would be three times higher than this.

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