A membrane bioreactor (MBR) is a chamber with a membrane separation mechanism, and a biochemical transformation built into it. The membrane can be utilized inside the bioreactor for a variety of tasks, including the input of a reactant or the removal of a specific reaction product.
History of MBRs
MBRs were initially investigated historically in the 1970s for use in the food business. MBRs were subsequently established as a well-known wastewater treatment technique, with a number of benefits over the Conventional Activated Sludge Process (CAS).
MBRs have a lower environmental impact and better effluent quality. They also provide the option of decoupling hydraulic retention time (HRT) and solids retention time (SRT).
What is the application of Membrane Bioreactors(MBR)?
Over the past few decades, membrane bioreactors have been used for a number of purposes. This includes the production of food and biofuels, as well as the creation of fine chemicals, proteins, antibiotics, and amino acids; the elimination of pollutants, and wastewater treatment.
The most significant use of membrane bioreactors to date has been the treatment of home, municipal, and industrial wastewater. The uses of MBRs will be briefly discussed in the section that follows, along with the difficulties and benefits that come with each application.
· Treatment of Wastewater
In compared to CAS technology for the treatment and reuse of municipal wastewater, MBRs are regarded as the premier technology for the elimination of harmful microorganisms and micropollutants.
In a membrane bioreactor, the process of removing activated sludge is carried out using an ultrafiltration or microfiltration membrane, as opposed to the CAS method, where the separation of biomass from water happens based on gravity forces. As a result, separation is no longer reliant on gravity and better effluent water quality, can be obtained.
MBRs were first tested in side-stream mode and then evolved as submerged MBRs, using flat-sheet or hollow-fiber membranes in the 1980s. The fouling formation at the membrane surface continues to be the most significant issue, for the complete commercial implementation of this technology, despite the fact that there have been multiple advancements for the demonstration of both configurations for full industrial scale.
· Recycling Water
Water recycling to provide high-quality water is another exciting prospective use for MBR technology. This is made feasible by the strong performance of MBRs, their ease of use and low to moderate technical support requirements, and, ultimately, their capacity to remove contaminants in a single phase.
In this procedure, a micro or ultrafiltration membrane system for the separation of water, from the mixture is often paired with a traditional biological sludge process, for the biodegradation of waste chemicals. As a result, it is possible to generate water of greater quality with a smaller environmental impact.
· Bioconversion and Bio-product Production
Several instances of the use of MBRs for bioconversion or the production of bio-products can also be identified, by looking at the available literature. In order to do this, catalytic membranes are employed in the hydrolysis of triolein, the synthesis of glycerides, and the manufacture of biodiesel from waste oil. Examples of these enzymes are lipase and galactosidase.
· Production of Food
In general, there are two primary areas where MBR technology is used in the food industry: first, the processing of food and drinks (including wine, fruit juice, and milk), and second, the manufacture of a variety of food ingredients using bio catalytic processes.
This method is specifically utilized to produce value-added goods, including low-fat milk, sugar syrup, fructose, glucose, and grapefruit juice, through the enzymatic hydrolysis process. Further applications of this technology include reducing the viscosity of fruit juices by hydrolysingpectin’s, reducing the amount of lactose in milk and whey by turning it into digestible sugar, and reducing the viscosity of other liquids.
Ultra and microfiltration membrane technologies are seen as desirable alternatives, to the traditional clarifying procedures for the preparation of juices and drinks. Juices and pulps should be pre-treated, though, in order to decrease the formation of fouling at the membrane's surface.
1: Enzymatic Membrane Bioreactors (EMBRs) are mostly used in dairy processes, for the breakdown of lactose to increase milk's digestibility. Particularly, EMBRs are much more investigated than whole-cell MBR, presumably as a result of the challenges associated with employing biological cells, at an industrial scale while their activity is degrading.
2: Whole-cell MBRs are preferred because fermentation processes might result in the formation of many by-products, necessitating an additional step for the separation of enzymes or enzyme cofactors.
· Production of Biofuel
Production of biogas and bioethanol from renewable sources, such as municipal garbage, can be a desirable alternative to traditional fossil-based fuels. For this reason, the use of MBRs in the generation of biofuel has received much attention.
This application has many benefits, including being an environmentally benign process, requiring less capital investment, not being constrained by chemical equilibrium, and having a high degree of process flexibility, with regard to feedstock conditions.
However, the primary obstacles to the commercialization of this technology, continue to be the membrane lifetime, and fouling formation.
· Medicinal products and biotechnology
In the past few years, numerous research papers have addressed the use of MBRs for pharmaceuticals. The synthesis of various medicinal compounds, including antibiotics, vitamins, amides, and antioxidants, has been reported to be a good fit for EMBRs in this context.
Despite the many benefits that EMBRs have over conventional bioreactors for the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, their use in industry is still quite limited, largely because there is a dearth of comprehensive and prognostic research. Additionally, a number of factors may have a significant impact on the long-term use of the technology, for pharmaceuticals. These include a lack of process stability, poor cell viability, and severe membrane fouling.
· Batch reactors
In batch reactors with lengthy holdup times, the majority of industrial-scale biotechnology procedures are carried out. The continuous manufacture of biotechnological goods has recently drawn much greater interest, in an effort to get around this restriction.
For this reason, membrane technology has shown that it is superior to conventional separation technologies, in terms of both upstream and downstream separation processes.
Municipal wastewater treatment facilities are known to be excellent large-scale applications for MBR technology. The ability to use less labour in the process and, through the reuse of wastewater, the ability to adhere to ever-stricter environmental regulations are two benefits of this technology.
It can also be successfully integrated in small-scale applications, such as those related to buildings, landfill leachate processing, and the shipping industry. Examples of such applications can also be found in the cattle, pulp and paper, oil and gas, food and beverage, and industries that use a lot of water.
By far, the most common use of membrane reactors in biological systems is for the treatment of wastewater and water recycling.
Similar to this, membrane bioreactors have received much attention as a promising strategy, in numerous other application fields, including the manufacture of biofuels, medicines, and numerous other small-scale uses.
However, the most significant obstacle to the broad commercial deployment of this technique, is the fouling build-up at membrane surfaces. The expensive cost of membranes could also pose a significant obstacle, to the widespread use of membrane bioreactors.
Providers of MBR technology in India
Netsol Water is the leading producer and supplier of sewage and effluent treatment systems in India. Our system is exceptionally reliable and cost-effective for use in an industrial environment and municipal environment.
We work with each of our clients to give high-quality filtration systems at affordable pricing, since we are aware that you need the best systems available, at fair and competitive prices.