Water Environ Res 2015 Mar;87(3):266-73
Membrane bioreactor (MBR) is becoming popular for advanced wastewater treatment and water reuse. Air scouring to "shake" the membrane fibers is most suitable and applicable to maintain filtration without severe and rapidfouling. However, membrane fouling mitigating technologies are energy intensive. The goal of this research is to develop an alternative energy-saving MBR system to reduce energy consumption; a revolutionary system that will directly compete with air scouring technologies currently in the membrane water reuse market. The innovative MBR system, called reciprocation MBR (rMBR), prevents membrane fouling without the use of air scouring blowers. The mechanism featured is a mechanical reciprocating membrane frame that uses inertia to prevent fouling. Direct strong agitation of the fiber is also beneficial for the constant removal of solids built up on the membrane surface. The rMBR pilot consumes less energy than conventional coarse air scouring MBR systems. Specific energy consumption for membrane reciprocation for the pilot rMBR system was 0.072 kWh/m3 permeate produced at 40 LMH, which is 75% less than the conventional air scouring in an MBR system (0.29 kWh/m3). Reciprocation of the hollow-fiber membrane can overcome the hydrodynamic limitations of air scouring or cross-flow membrane systems with less energy consumption and/or higher energy efficiency.