Study of new approach to the operation of membrane bioreactors in the Mediteranean region

Funding: EU-Project in the 6th Framework Programme
Project Duration: 01.01.2006 - 31.12.2008
Project Manager: Wolfgang Schulz

The Mediterranean basin is one of the poorest regions in the world in terms of water resources. An increased water consumption rate for irrigation purposes along with a high urban population growth, have had an adverse effect on water resources. Thus most groundwater resources in the Mediterranean area are at risk of being exhausted through overexploitation. With limited renewable water resources, most countries of the area have been driven to reuse their wastewaters. However, specially in the east and northern Mediterranean regions, wastewaters are inefficiently treated or even re-used directly without treatment for irrigation or sanitary purposes, serving as a carrier for diseases or causing water pollution when discharged to water bodies. In the last decade, several water treatment technologies have been used in the region with little success on pathogens removal. Membrane bioreactor technology is a very promising alternative to those conventional water treatments for membranes act as a barrier against bacteria and viruses achieving a high degree of water depuration. However, most membrane bioreactors currently in use have very high running costs because of the high-pressure drop and high air-flushing rate required for their operation.

The objective of this project is to study a new approach to the operation of membrane bioreactors. This study will include a comparison of the three leading membrane technologies. The operating procedure to be studied is expected to yield very low energy consumption and reduced maintenance costs. These characteristics would make the bioreactors working in these conditions suitable to be operated in peri-urban areas of the Mediterranean basin, where expenditure in public services is a critical factor.

  • To compare the performance of MBR bioreactors working under conventional operating conditions with the performance achieved under conditions specially adapted to the requirements of MENA countries
  • To study the performance of the most advanced membrane technologies available in the market working under different operating conditions
  • To study the performance, energy consumption and maintenance requirements of MBRs working at low Solids Retention Times as a possible operating procedure for the application of these system in peri-urban areas of MENA countries
  • To study the characteristics of the microbial community present in the reactor for the different experimental conditions studied
  • To propose the most suitable technology for the application of decentralised MBR wastewater systems and its optimum operating conditions
  • To study the feasibility of decentralised wastewater treatment plants based on MBR technologies in the MENA countries


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