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Hollow Fiber VS Flat Sheet MBR Membrane- Advantages and Disadvantages

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Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) is an advanced wastewater treatment system that combines conventional activated sludge treatment with membrane filtration. The technology is particularly effective for treating high-strength industrial wastewater and offers advantages such as compact design, high-quality effluent, and operational efficiency.

Membrane bioreactors can be divided into hollow fiber membranes and flat membranes.

Membrane Bioreactors (MBRs) are a cornerstone in modern wastewater treatment technology. Two of the most commonly used types of membranes in MBRs are curtain membranes and flat membranes. Below is a detailed comparison of these two types of membranes, focusing on their practical applications in sewage treatment.

SPERTA Hollow Fiber MBR Membrane Module

Hollow Fiber Membranes

Structure: Curtain membranes are typically hollow fiber membranes suspended vertically in the bioreactor tank.


  • High Surface Area: Due to their vertical arrangement, curtain membranes offer a high surface area-to-volume ratio, allowing for efficient filtration.
  • Ease of Cleaning: The vertical orientation allows for easier backwashing and air scouring, reducing fouling rates.


  • Mechanical Sensitivity: These membranes are generally more sensitive to mechanical damage due to their hollow fiber structure.
  • Complexity in Installation: The vertical arrangement may require specialized installation procedures.  
Flat Sheet MBR Membrane Module
Flat Sheet MBR Membrane Module

Flat Sheet Membranes

Structure: Flat membranes are usually sheet-like structures that are laid horizontally or at a slight angle in the bioreactor.


  • Robustness: These membranes are generally more robust and less susceptible to mechanical damage.
  •  Ease of Maintenance: Flat membranes are easier to access for cleaning and maintenance.


  • Lower Surface Area: The surface area-to-volume ratio is generally lower compared to curtain membranes, which may reduce filtration efficiency.
  • Potential for Fouling: The horizontal orientation may lead to increased fouling, requiring more frequent cleaning.

Application in Wastewater Treatment

The application of MBR in wastewater treatment generally follows these steps:

MBR Membrane Process in Wastewater
MBR Membrane Process in Wastewater

Pretreatment: Initial filtration to remove large debris and solids.

Biological Treatment: Wastewater is directed to the biological reactor where microorganisms degrade pollutants.

Membrane Filtration: The treated water from the biological reactor is then passed through the membrane module. Here, fine particles and microorganisms are filtered out, producing high-quality effluent.

Disinfection: Optional step to further purify the water if needed.

Effluent Discharge or Reuse: The treated water can either be discharged safely into the environment or reused for various applications.

Advantages in Wastewater Treatment

High-Quality Effluent: MBR systems produce effluent of higher quality compared to conventional systems.

Space Efficiency: Due to the compact design, MBR systems are ideal for sites with limited space.

Operational Flexibility: MBRs can handle variations in load and volume, making them suitable for a range of industrial applications.

Reduced Sludge Production: The system generates less sludge, reducing disposal costs.

Kevin Chen

Kevin Chen

Hi, I'm the author of this post and have been in this field for over 5 years. If you have questions regarding the MBR membrane products or want to purchase the MBR membrane, please feel free to contact me by email. kevin@spertasystems.com

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