WP4: Removing micropollutants and microplastics by membrane bioreactors (MBR) - Sweden Water Research


To develop membrane based technologies for removal of micro-pollutants and micro-plastics.

WP4: Removing micropollutants and microplastics by membrane bioreactors (MBR)

Recently, the presence of micropollutants and microplastics in aquatic environment has gained significant attention. Some pollutants affect aquatic life at very low concentration, but they are often not satisfactorily eliminated in conventional wastewater treatment systems.

MBR (Membrane bioreactor) technology, as one of the modern wastewater treatment technologies, has many advantages over classical activated sludge treatment (CAS), with higher sludge ages, and higher sludge densities, thus giving enhanced properties to remove pollutants.

In this research, traditional polymeric membranes are replaced by modern ceramic membranes which allow more drastic operation in cleaning mode and less backpressure.


Investigation of the kinetics, removal rates and transformation products of different micropollutants and microplastics in MBR system under different operation conditions, to establish a stable and effective MBR system.

First results

Removal rates of 25 pharmaceuticals during MBR treatment, with the influent COD at 60mg/L.

MBR Pilot plant

The pilot plant is located at BIOFOS Wastewater Treatment Plant, Avedøre, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Work plans

  • Employ MBR system as a polishing step in the effluent, adjusting different carbon source levels to better remove micropollutants and microplastics
  • Employ MBR system to substitute CAS, observing the influence of BOD/aeration rates on the removal of pollutants
  • Optimize the hydraulic retention times (HRT) and other parameters of MBR
  • Explore the formation of the transformation products of micropollutants during MBR treatment

Contact information

Key person
Rui Li, AU

Other participants
Ulla E. Bollmann, AU
Jes La Cour Jansen Haris Kadrispahic, Liqtech
Jonas Ballegaard, Liqtech
Artur Tomasz Mielczarek, Biofos
Michael Eriksson, Biofos
Dines Thornberg, Biofos

Kai Bester, AU, kb@envs.au.dk

Prof. Kai Bester, kb@envs.au.dk Aarhus University, Dep. of Environ. Sci., Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000 Roskilde