The Membrane Aerated Bioflm Reactor consists of two main components the membrane and the Biofilm. The Biofilm which is a consortia of micro-organisims growing attached to each other and in most cases also to a surface, is what actually breaks down the pollutants in the wastewater. Biofilm or Fixed Film technologies have been around for over 100 years. With trickling filters one of the oldest wastewater treatment technologies in existence. Up until recently all biofilm systems whether submerged or non-submerged have been co-diffusional biofilms. This means that all the nutrients and oxygen diffuse into the biofilm together from the exposed surface. The material on which the biofilm is attached is inert and does nothing apart from provide the surface upon which the biofilm grows, which means there is no need for recovery of the biomass as its always in the reactor. These co-diffusion biofilms have limited reaction rates due to diffusional limitation within the biofilm.
Urban populations are projected to nearly double in the next 40 years, from 3.4 billion to over 6 billion people - but already most cities fail to provide adequate wastewater management due to absent, inadequate or aging sewage infrastructure (World Water Council, 2012).
According to a recent UN-Water Analytical Brief, a paradigm shift is urgently required in water politics the world over to prevent further damage to sensitive ecosystems, and to the aquatic environment.
The secondary or biological stage of traditional activated sludge wastewater treatment plants is where most of the energy is consumed. It far outweighs the operational costs of pumps, mixers, chemical addition, lighting, heating, etc.
Oxygen needed by bacteria used in this stage is usually delivered in the form of atmospheric air, through mechanical equipment, and usually against a hydrostatic pressure created by four to six metres of water depth. Rotating blade mixers, jets and/or large blowers are needed to push air through this pressure (head), to ensure all bacteria receive sufficient oxygen.
Have you always wanted an MABR for your Wadterwater Treatment Plant but feel overwhelmed by where to start?
- What do you need?
- What will it look like?
- How much membrane is required?
- How much air is required?
Well let's start at the beginning, and like other aeration technologies the first thing that must be calculated is how much oxygen is required for the biological treatment process? Pollution in wastewater is either particulate (solids) or dissolved. While biological processes can treat both, for ease of calculation, and because biological processes take a lot longer to break down solid components than settling or filtration, we will only consider the dissolved components in this calculation.
Oxygen will be required for the breakdown of Carbon Oxygen Demand (COD) and Ammonia:
- 1kg of O2 for every kg of COD
- 4.6kg of O2 for every kg of Ammonia as N (N-NH3)
Wastewater Treatment plants are not usually the source of innovation - with many continuing to operate much as they did a few decades ago. However, you may have heard of some recent successes due to the commercial application of an innovative approach to treatment - using Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) technologies.
This solution is gaining a lot of attention around the world due to the quantified benefits that combine to improve overall operational efficiency.
These benefits include significant improvements in energy efficiency, and reductions in tank footprint, in sludge production and in operator support time. Simply installing a number of MABR modules in an existing tank enhances treatment performance, and provides additional process capacity overnight.
Key Benefits Include:
- 75% Energy Saving
- 50-80% Tank Savings
- 50% Less Sludge
- 50% More Capacity
So how do you explore whether you should be considering OxyMem for driving efficiencies at your plant?The following 3 step process will help you quickly evaluate whether this area warrants further exploration.
OxyMem were one of 30 companies from Europe who were recently selected by the European Business Mission to travel to Singapore and Vietnam to showcase the latest technological advancements in wastewater treatment. The mission gave the best of European innovation access to groups right accross Asia allowing us to contrast the challenges of basic infrastucture development of some of the emerging economies alongside one of most sophisticated and innovative water clusters in the world.
The interest in OxyMem Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) was even greater than we anticipated, and it was clear that many of the attendees were keen to embrace solutions that met their specific local needs. As my colleague Wayne Byrne has previously argued:
“There is a tendency to want to mirror or mimic what other successful economies have done when you are looking for templates to build, or improve, a nation’s infrastructure. This is a highly justifiable rationale, after all if it has worked once it is likely to work again. But nowadays emerging economies have become more savvy and are more open than ever to the opportunity of leapfrogging”.
It was clear that many of the attendees we met recognised that OxyMem MABR offered such a solution. While a number of solutions are designed for the centralised utility deployment model so common in Western countries, OxyMem MABR is perfectly suited for smaller, more local plants.
“Decentralized treatment is most popular in developing nations that lack wastewater conveyance systems or drinking water pipelines going to far-off treatment facilities, or even within urban places” Abhirabh Basu, Lux Research.
Why OxyMem is Shaking up the Wastewater Treatment Industry?
Since taking on my most recent role as Commercial Director at OxyMem various people have already asked me questions such as;“Why would you leave the position you had with a reputable, established aeration manufacturer, within the world of fine bubble diffused aeration , to go work for a small Irish firm that’s only a few years old and selling something the world hasn’t seen yet?”
The frequency of these types of questions certainly make me very aware that I am doing something different or something seen as risky to most, especially when the question comes from respected colleagues within the water industry. Though aware, I have never been known to simply stay with the status quo, so I give my response without hesitation.“Because sometimes, just sometimes, that one great thing comes along, and your gut tells you that you would be foolish to miss an opportunity to be part of it.”
There is a tendency to want to mirror or mimic what other successful economies have done when you are looking for templates to build, or improve, a nations infrastructure. This is a highly justifiable rationale, after all if it has worked once it is likely to work again. But nowadays emerging economies have become more savvy and are more open than ever to the opportunity of leapfrogging.
The terms ‘wastewater’ and ‘sewage’ are regularly used interchangeably, however there are differences between both. In fact, ‘sewage’ is considered a subset of wastewater.
A century has passed since the introduction of the Activated Sludge process – but how far have we come in terms of improving, innovation, developing and innovating for the challenges of today? Nowadays the activated sludge process is one of the most widely used wastewater treatment processes worldwide. It successfully treats municipal and industrial wastewaters and has returned water and river quality to a high standard on a global scale. However, the water-energy nexus discussion has begun in earnest and we are faced with a wastewater infrastructure crisis to serve growing pressure to answer the arising issues. How do we combat the amounts of energy and other operational expenditure it takes to collect, move, treat and discharge water? How do we move the dial to energy neutral wastewater treatment?
Climate Change has been in the headlines across the world for the past few weeks due to the COP21 Climate Talks in Paris but also due to the unseasonably mild weather in the US and a considerable spike in more intense, powerful storms and storm surges resulting in flooding across Western Europe. As the effects of climate change become more evident, what do wastewater treatment operators need to do to adapt?
OxyMem is now facing into its third year. Having recently opened an office in the United States to service the growing demand in the North American market we decided to take a step back and think about how far we have come since we started up. In doing so, we spoke to John Geaney, OxyMem’s Manufacturing Manager about the challenges faced in developing a manufacturing process from a lab scale protype into a full scalable, shift based production process which is in place today.
Working in a startup can awaken talents you never knew you had, it allows you to expand your responsibility and knowledge and learn how, despite challenges, a business gets off the ground. When I was hired at OxyMem as the Marketing Manager nearly two-years ago, we were a team of four - the CEO, the CTO, a research scientist and me. It is the kind of environment that you’ve to roll up your sleeves, get stuck in and embrace each day with a hunger to succeed.
One aspect in the engineering world that is just as important as building a project, is building your project culture. Arranging a team, creating the best development process and optimising that process is a science. And not an easy one. Eoin Mulholland is affectionately known as OxyMem’s HOPE Ninja (Head Of Project Engineering). Eoin has been handed the baton of development for the Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor from those who have championed it for over 15 years in University College Dublin, Ireland.
Climate change is the most significant environmental concern of our lifetimes and it is widely agreed that comprehensive international action is essential. Data on the topic has established the oil and gas sector as a major contributor to the emission of greenhouse gases. With an increasing push to limit greenhouse emissions by 2020, stronger pollution controls on oil and gas operations, as well as power plants, are being examined by governments.