Sustainability analysis of large-scale membrane bioreactor plant

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Current Developments in Biotechnology and Bioengineering: Advanced Membrane Separation Processes for Sustainable Water and Wastewater Management - Case Studies and Sustainability Analysis, 2020, pp. 1-20
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© 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Many countries and regions around the world have experienced severe water shortages and water contamination problems because of population increase and ever-growing water demands combined with climate change and imbalanced rainfall distributions. Consequently, reclaimed water is being increasingly considered as a feasible and reliable alternative water resource that is vital for water supply and management in a sustainable way. As for reclaimed water production, membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology is receiving increasing attention in the wastewater treatment and reuse field. This study presents an overall evaluation of the sustainability of large-scale MBR plants with respect to multiple aspects, namely technical, environmental, and economic sides. As for technical evaluation, the plant performs well on account of a high compliance rate, stable effluent quality, and high removal rate of pollutants over a long-term operation. The plant is also adaptive and responsive to ever-increasing stringent water quality limits. However, from the environmental and economic perspectives, electricity consumption is the main aspect that contributed largely to increased life cycle environmental impacts and costs, accounting for 51.6% of the overall life cycle costs. Consequently, to deal with these challenges, harnessing the best use of energy in the MBR treatment unit and performing strategies on sludge treatment and handling is recommended. The extension of membrane life span also can reduce significantly the life cycle environmental impacts and costs. The results from the study can provide theoretical and applicable information for the operation and management of other MBR plants.
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