In membrane bioreactors (MBRs) for wastewater treatment the secondary clarifier is replaced by a membrane filtration. The advantage of this process is a complete removal of solids from the effluent and a small footprint due to possible high biomass concentrations (MLSS). As oxygen supply counts for more than 70% of total energy cost in municipal WWTPs the design of the aeration system is vital for efficient operation. In this respect the a-value is an important influencing factor. The a-value depends on the MLSS-concentration as shown in various publications and confirmed by own measurements in two full scale municipal MBRs with MLSS ranging from 7 and 17 kg/m3. Furthermore it must be taken into account that a-values are not static values; they vary with loading rates, surfactant concentrations, air flow rates, MLSS concentrations, etc. The average a-value at typical 12 kg/m3 MLSS for municipal MBRs is about 0.6 ± 0.1. As submerged configured MBRs are equipped with an additional coarse bubble “crossflow” aeration system for fouling control, supplementary energy is consumed. Therefore MBRs need more energy compared to conventional treatment plants. Measurements of both aeration systems show that the fine bubble aeration system is more efficient by a factor of three concerning oxygen supply compared to the coarse bubble system.

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