FMBR Decentralized Wastewater System Case Studies

The FMBR decentralized wastewater system is available in two general configurations:

decentralized wastewater system tank

Factory-built modules are ideal for Pilot Demonstration Projects and smaller systems with flows up to 100,000 GPD. They offer a simple, turn-key, automated, wastewater treatment solution, with fast construction, and little maintenance. View specifications and FAQs.

decentralized wastewater system concrete

Concrete FMBR bioreactors can be custom designed by JDL to meet unique client requirements, treating wastewater flow up to 34 MGD. View specifications and FAQs.

The Pilot FMBR Decentralized Wastewater System in Plymouth, Massachusetts

The FMBR Pilot Demonstration Project was made possible by winning a competition hosted by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MASSCEC) for wastewater treatment innovations that minimize energy consumption. It was granted the highest available funding of $150,000. The FMBR was commissioned in November 2019 at the Plymouth, Massachusetts Municipal Airport and is currently in operation. The final report summarizing results of the pilot can be found here: FMBR Pilot Final Report.

massachusettes clean energy center

FMBR Pilot Basic Parameters

  • Replace an SBR wastewater treatment process due to capacity limitations and high energy costs.
  • Treat 5,000 GPD of wastewater generated by the airport and surrounding restaurants.
  • Meet effluent discharge permit requirements – BOD<30, TN<10 and TSS<30, (mg/L).
  • Footprint = 224 sq. ft. for 5,000 GPD capacity.

Average Daily Test Results for C, N, and P Removal

  • Phosphorus – 10.0 mgP/L to <1.0 mgP/L in effluent
  • Total Nitrogen – 62.7 mgTN/L to 4.1 mgTN/L.
  • BOD – 371 mg/L to non-detect
  • TSS – 79 mg/L to non-detect
fmbr charts

~77% energy savings

The FMBR Pilot demonstrated an average 77% reduction of electric energy consumption and a 73% reduction in energy cost.

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~65% less biosolids volume requiring offsite disposal

Prior operating practices of the SBR involved transporting ~20,000 GPY of residual sludge offsite to another, larger WWTP for processing. The FMBR does not produce a residual sludge. It generates a liquid slurry of biosolids that eventually needs to be discharged. The annual biosolids requiring discharge was estimated at ~7,000 GPY. This correlated to a 65% reduction of annual biosolids volume that requires offsite disposal.

~75%+ reduction in foot print

The SBR was installed in 2003 with a design wastewater flow capacity of 25,000 GPD, and a footprint of 2,303 sq. ft. The FMBR Pilot design flow is 5,000 GPD which is the actual flow at the airport. The footprint is 224 sq. ft. This correlates to a 90% smaller footprint than the SBR system. If the FMBR had a design flow of 25,000 GPD, the estimated footprint of 500 sq. ft, would correlate to a 75% reduction.

30-Day Installation

The FMBR equipment arrived at the site on October 25, 2019. The installation was completed on November 7. The operation started on November 12. The effluent began meeting the discharge permit stably on November 25.

“This [FMBR] system runs on a heck of a lot less energy than the SBR system. It also achieves BOD removals of non-detect, TSS removals of non-detect and averages around 3 milligrams per liter of total nitrogen throughout the project.” –Chad Whiting, Wastewater Manager


Video Tour of the Plymouth FMBR

Click on the video to view a six minute tour of the the Plymouth FMBR by Chad Whiting, Wastewater Manager at the Town of Plymouth.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello, my name is Chad Whiting. I’m the wastewater manager here at the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. I’ve been working with JDL on a pilot project for their FMBR system, on a grant funded by Massachusetts Clean Energy Centers.

We’ve found this project to be great at conserving energy and enhancing our treatment capabilities here at the Plymouth Airport. We were running a traditional SBR and we switched to this FMBR to try to save energy and improve nutrient removal, which has been proven successful in this pilot so far. I would like to take it for a little virtual tour and walk through our facility. Please keep in mind that our facility’s on the cusp of going through some building upgrades, so you might see some some things that are in need of repair.

I’m going to take you up where the water comes in and explain how it goes through the JDL’s FMBR system. We’re going to go up here, on top of the inlet tanks.

The wastewater comes into this tank here, it’s the pre-EQ tank, and this pump here. The piping you see coming up out of the tank goes over to JDL’s FMBR system which is over there in the corner. The wastewater comes in, goes through this pipeline into JDL’s FMBR system where it gets treated. The wastewater comes back down through this pipeline over to this small effluent storage tank where it’s allowed to go, be pumped out into our dosing field. This is our treated effluent.

fmbr entry

This filter you see here is an online analyzer that analyzes the effluent for nitrite, nitrate, ammonia and phosphorus. This is online and samples every 15 minutes as the treatment process is going on. This is also hooked to an automatic valve, that if it’s within spec, meaning that it’s within our permit limits of 10 milligrams per liter of total nitrogen, or less, it’s allowed to go into the center tank and discharge out into our dosing field. If that parameter is not met and we are in excess of 10 milligrams per liter, it goes into this tank that I’m standing on, called the waste sludge tank. That tank recirculates back to the equalization tank over in the corner where we just were and gets treated again and periodically this waste sludge tank is pumped out and brought for disposal. 

online analyzer
automatic valve

I’m going to go up on top of the FMBR system now and talk a little bit about how it works. Now we are up on top of the FMBR’s tank, I’m standing up on the catwalk. This first compartment houses all the equipment, the blowers and pumps for pumping the wastewater. This is the main control panel where you can operate all the equipment. This operates automatically on a time program set up by JDL, in their unique operation sequence.

fmbr catwalk
automatic valve
plymouth fmbr dark
plymouth fmbr eqtank

In this tank here, it’s a little dark it’s hard to see, but there are membranes inside this tank. The wastewater comes in here, this is filled with the mixed liquor. The mixed liquor is usually between 8,000 to 12,000 milligrams per liter to treat the wastewater after it’s through its treatment process. The treated water is filtered through a membrane and gets pumped back, it goes by gravity actually, over to the effluent storage tank that I just showed you, over in the corner, on the top of the SBR tanks.

This system runs on a heck of a lot less energy than the SBR system. It also achieves BOD removals of non-detect, TSS removals of non-detect, and averages around 3 milligrams per liter of total nitrogen throughout the project. Like any biological process, it does experience it hiccups with different loadings, so we’ve found that we need to make sure that the incoming COD is above 300. This plant in particular is tied to a few restaurants and a nail salon, and not a lot of dilution. So the wastewater coming into the into the plant is at a high strength. The high strength wastewater is usually somewhere between 300 milligrams per liter, upwards of we’ve seen as high as 900 milligrams per liter coming into the plant. Which is high strength, but this FMBR has been able to treat that volume.

This system is designed for our permit capacity of 25,000 gallons per day, but at normal strength. At this higher strength wastewater, the system is able to treat 5,000 to 7,000 gallons per day. Fortunately, our flows are very low because the airport has not been built out enough. We’re currently around 3,000 to 4,000 gallons per day. This treatment system is well within our needs right now. As our flows expand and flows come up, we’re hoping for dilution for lower strength wastewater, to be able to bring our high strength down and get our loading such, that this will handle more and more flow as it gets diluted.

Also, this is a trained system, so we could also retrofit another train or retrofit the SBR tank into an FMBR system. JDL is fully capable of the engineering of that and they’ve been a great company to work with on this pilot project. They’ve been very responsive and they set this project up very well.

5.3 MGD FMBR Decentralized Wastewater System

WWTP Type: Concrete, underground FMBR
Treatment Capacity: 5.3 MGD
Footprint: 1.65 acres
Location: Nanchang City, China
Installation: 2020

In order to solve environmental issues caused by domestic sewage, and to effectively improve the quality of urban water and environment a new wastewater plant was required. Considering the disadvantages of traditional sewage treatment plants, such as large land occupation, heavy odor, a need to stay away from the residential areas, and a huge investment in wastewater distribution infrastructure, the client chose JDL FMBR technology for the project. The client adopted the concept of “Park above ground, treatment facilities underground” to build a new ecological sewage treatment plant with a daily treatment capacity of 5.3 MGD. The sewage treatment plant is built near a residential area and covers only 1.65 acres. During the operation, there is basically no odor and the organic residual sludge is greatly reduced. The whole structure of the plant is hidden underground. On the ground, it is built into a modern garden, which also provides a harmonious ecological leisure place for the community.

34.3 MGD FMBR Decentralized Wastewater System

WWTP Type: Concrete, underground FMBR
Treatment Capacity: 34.3 MGD
Footprint: 12.4 acres
Location: Lianyungang City, China
Installation: 2019

In order to protect the local ecological environment and highlight the appearance of a livable and industrial coastal city, the local government chose FMBR technology to build a park-style ecological sewage treatment plant. The adopted FMBR process removed the primary sedimentation tank, anaerobic tank, anoxic tank, aerobic tank, and secondary sedimentation tank of the traditional process. The process flow was simplified and the footprint was greatly reduced. The entire sewage treatment facility is hidden underground. After the sewage passes through the pretreatment zone, FMBR zone, and disinfection zone, it can be discharged and/or reused as high quality, clean water effluent for plant greening and irrigation. The discharge of residual organic sludge is greatly reduced by FMBR technology. As a result, there is basically no odor. The entire plant area has been built into a waterscape leisure plaza, creating a new model of sewage treatment plant with ecological harmony and reclaimed water reuse.