Results have been published in Water Research journal and are the culmination of eight years of research by Hèctor Monclús, Montse Dalmau, Sara Gabarrón, Giuliana Ferrero, Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda and Joaquim Comas from LEQUIA research group of University of Girona.
Membrane bioreactors (MBR) replace conventional secondary decanters of wastewater treatment plants with micro or ultrafiltration processes. However, this technological innovation is also responsible for the rise of exploitation costs. Smart Air MBR® is a real time automatic air scour control system able to achieve up to 22% energy savings in membrane bioreactors. The system, which was developed by LEQUIA researchers and patented by University of Girona and GS INIMA Environment S.A, converts MBR into a much more competitive technology.
The work published in Water Research journal is the last step of the progress made in our group since 2008 to optimize MBR operation and management. Several studies have been carried out at laboratory scale, pilot plant scale and semi-industrial scale to finally conduct this full-scale validation in the wastewater treatment plant of La Bisbal d’Empordà, with two MBR filtration lines. The application of Environmental Decision Support Systems (EDSS) to the reduction of costs or the automation of decision making processes in water treatment installations is one of our main research lines.
Regarding technology transfer, LEQUIA is currently working on the licensing of the technology. On the other hand, Dr Hèctor Monclús has been recently awarded with a postdoctoral grant under the TECNIOSPRING program, funded by ACCIÓ and the VII Framework Program of the European Commission (Marie Curie Actions, COFUND). The project aims at evaluating the feasibility of Smart Air MBR® system in industrial wastewaters and in different configurations, and involves membrane manufacturer Polymem (http://www.polymem.fr). Thus, it will promote the internationalisation of the system.
Publication: Hèctor Monclús, Montse Dalmau, Sara Gabarrón, Giuliana Ferrero, Ignasi Rodriguez-Roda and Joaquim Comas. 2015. Full-scale validation of an air scour control system for energy savings in membrane bioreactors. Water Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2015.03.032.
Further information of Smart Air MBR®: http://lequia.udg.cat/technology-transfer/patents.html
Photo: Drs Hèctor Monclús, Sara Gabarrón, Montse Dalmau and Joaquim Comas (co-authors of the article) and Julian Mamo (also researcher at LEQUIA) in one of the pilot plants were the research was conducted.