New MBR System Promises to Cut Energy Costs

The new LEAPmbr membrane bioreactor (MBR) wastewater treatment system from General Electric (GE) is designed for use in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities worldwide. The MBR system consists of a suspended-growth biological reactor integrated with ZeeWeed hollow-fiber ultrafiltration membranes.

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The new LEAPmbr membrane bioreactor (MBR) wastewater treatment system from General Electric (GE) is designed for use in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities worldwide. The MBR system consists of a suspended-growth biological reactor integrated with ZeeWeed hollow-fiber ultrafiltration membranes.

A new “next-generation” membrane bioreactor (MBR) wastewater treatment system introduced recently promises a 30 percent reduction in energy costs, a 15 percent improvement in productivity, a 50 percent reduction in membrane aeration equipment and controls, and a 20 percent reduction in plant footprint compared to existing MBR systems.

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The new LEAPmbr system from GE was the result of a multi-year development effort designed to address water quality and operational cost issues faced by owners of municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities worldwide. MBR technologies offer new treatment options that are more effective than conventional methods while still maintaining a small footprint – something that is essential for utilities faced with growing populations, diverse geographies and limited land areas.

MBRs replace the solids-separation function of secondary clarifiers and sand filters used in conventional activated sludge systems. GE’s MBR technology consists of a suspended-growth biological reactor integrated with ZeeWeed hollow-fiber ultrafiltration membranes.

The ZeeWeed membranes are immersed in a membrane tank, in direct contact with the water to be treated. Through the use of a permeate pump, a vacuum is applied to a header connected to the membranes. The vacuum draws the water through the membranes, which filter out solids, along with bacteria and viruses. The filtered permeate can be further treated, reused or discharged as needed.

Innovations in the LEAPmbr system include increased surface area of the ZeeWeed membrane module and optimization of the membrane tank design.

The system also features LEAPmbr Aeration Technology, an improved membrane air scour for MBR. The technology employs larger bubbles that produce better scouring action released at a shorter cycle time, the net result of which is a more efficient membrane air scour process. Extensive full-scale field validation has been performed at multiple plants to challenge the performance in a range of operating environments.

In addition to the operating cost savings associated with the new MBR system, related equipment costs have also been lowered. Because of reduced aeration flow, the blowers and air compressors can be smaller. There is no need for air cycling valves, and automation and controls are simplified.

Also, construction savings can be realized with a reduction in membrane tank size and the lower requirement for mechanical and electrical installation.

The increased productivity provides a reduction in membrane cassette requirements with fewer membrane modules necessary to treat a given capacity. The simplified design also allows for lower maintenance and operating costs.

GE is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of ultrafiltration membranes for water and wastewater treatment, capable of producing enough membranes on an annual basis to treat more than 1.1 billion gallons of water per day. With more than 25 years of MBR experience, GE is actively involved in research and development, and system design.

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