Unlike conventional wastewater treatment systems that have a single effluent discharge point, membrane bioreactors (MBR) may have multiple extraction points resulting from the location of the membrane element in the reactor. This leads to multiple residence time distributions for an MBR system. One method to characterise the mixing is based on the concept of residence time distribution (RTD). A set of RTDs were generated using the conservative tracer, lithium chloride, for pilot plant MBRs with capacity up to 300 m3/day. Flat sheet and hollow fibre pilot plant MBR systems were operated in parallel on primary effluent collected at the Bedok Water Reclamation Plant in the republic of Singapore. Analysis of the RTD profiles indicated that membrane geometry did not impact on the kinetic conversion associated with nitrification because both MBRs were in well mixed conditions. However, the energy required to achieve perfect mixing with a hollow fibre module MBR, as defined by the velocity gradient, was lower than that with a flat sheet module MBR. The implication is that energy input associated with reactor mixing will depend on the configuration of the membrane. The difference in energy requirements between flat sheets and hollow fibres is such that careful consideration should be given to membrane selection in larger municipal installations.

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