Environmental Protection

GE Introduces Low-Energy Membrane Bioreactor Wastewater Treatment System

GE has introduced a membrane bioreactor (MBR) wastewater treatment technology called LEAPmbr, which addresses pressing water quality and operational cost issues faced by owners of municipal, industrial and residential water/wastewater treatment facilities worldwide.

Compared with previous GE mbr systems, the new systems reduce energy costs by a minimum of 30 percent; improve productivity by a 15 percent (greater water-treatment capacity); reduce membrane aeration equipment and controls by a  50 percent, leading to a simpler design with lower construction, installation and maintenance costs; and  reduce physical footprint by  20 percent, leading to further reduced construction and installation costs as well as lower ongoing consumption of cleaning chemicals.

One of the key growth markets for MBR technology overall is the municipal wastewater treatment sector. Until now, this sector has waited for the costs of newer MBR technologies to become more competitive with existing applications. 

MBRs replace the solids-separation function of secondary clarifiers and sand filters used in conventional activated sludge systems. GE’s MBR technology consists of a suspended-growth biological reactor integrated with the company’s ZeeWeed hollow-fiber ultrafiltration membranes.

The ZeeWeed membranes are immersed in a membrane tank, in direct contact with the water to be treated, which is known as mixed liquor. Through the use of a permeate pump, a vacuum is applied to a header connected to the membranes. The vacuum draws the water through the ZeeWeed membranes, which filter out solids, along with bacteria and viruses. The filtered water, or permeate, then can be further treated, reused or discharged as needed.


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