GE recently introduced the latest in membrane-based wastewater treatment technology, combining anaerobic digestion technology with its ZeeWeed* 500 membranes to create anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR). As industrial customers seek greater water reuse, while facing more stringent discharge limits, GE says AnMBR offers lower costs, better performance and the ability to generate renewable energy from industrial wastewater.

GE says its new technology is an ideal solution for industrial wastewater with high biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand concentrations that result in higher aerobic treatment operational expenses. The AnMBR is designed to provide reduced energy consumption, energy recovery and reduced sludge production both economically and reliably.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. One of the end products is biogas, which can be combusted to generate electricity and heat. Advantages of anaerobic treatment include energy savings by not requiring oxygen, reduced sludge production and reduced footprint. However, GE points out that the traditional anaerobic processes have disadvantages such as lesser effluent quality, process sensitivity, slow biomass growth rate, difficulty retaining methanogens and long-time or difficult-to-settle sludge.

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By combining anaerobic digestion and ZeeWeed membrane technology, GE says it has solved the issues associated with traditional anaerobic processes. GE’s AnMBR separates solids retention time from hydraulic retention time for a more robust biological process, retaining methanogens in anaerobic reactor, increasing methane production with no suspended solids in permeate and improving final effluent quality.

“GE’s most recent development in membranes unites our proven ZeeWeed reinforced hollow fiber membranes with anaerobic digestion technology to construct the new AnMBR,” said Yuvbir Singh, general manager, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “The future of water treatment has a new component and reinforces GE’s commitment to energy neutrality. Our industrial customers are yearning for more energy reduction in wastewater treatment, and GE's AnMBR will give them a way to generate renewable energy from their wastewater.”