Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for Wastewater Treatment

The Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment (FMBR) provides a compact, automated, decentralized solution, suitable for treating municipal, food, and other wastewater with a high percentage organic matter. As compared to traditional wastewater treatment processes, the FMBR reduces energy consumption by 30%+, footprint by 50%+, and residual biosolids by 70%+. As a DEWATS solution, 99%+ of wastewater flow can be recovered and reused onsite as clean water effluent, offering a significant water conservation opportunity and a reduction in water security risk.

The Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for Wastewater Treatment is available in two general configurations:

Membrane Bioreactor for Wastewater Treatment 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.
Membrane Bioreactor for Wastewater Treatment concrete
Concrete Facultative Membrane Bioreactors for wastewater treatment can be custom designed by JDL to meet unique client requirements, treating wastewater flow up to 34 MGD.

Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for Wastewater Treatment Case Studies

Treatment Capacity: 5k GPD
Footprint: 224 sq ft
Location: Plymouth, MA
Installation: 2019

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

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

How does the facultative membrane bioreactor for wastewater treatment work?

How does the FMBR remove Carbon (C)?

The Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment is designed to decompose organic matter to a greater degree than traditional MBR or SBR wastewater treatment processes. This is accomplished by facilitating a higher than normal concentration of facultative heterotrophic bacteria that decompose organic matter. A higher concentration of this bacteria is achieved by maintaining a higher than normal activated sludge concentration in the FMBR reactor.

How does the FMBR remove Nitrogen (N)?

The Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment completes nitrification/denitrification in one step, simultaneously, in a low dissolved oxygen (DO) condition (<0.5 mg/L). The nitrification-denitrification process is enhanced by encouraging a facultative environment and maintaining a high activated sludge concentration. A facultative environment is encouraged by carefully controlling DO, the gradient of DO distribution, and the liquid flow regime in specialized control schemes that are designed to optimize nitrogen removal. Over the 12 month Pilot Demo during 2020, total Nitrogen levels were reduced from an average 62.7 mg TN/L in the influent to 4.1 mg TN/L in the effluent.

How does the FMBR remove Phosphorus (P)?

By decomposing organic matter to a greater degree than normal, the Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment is designed to generate a greater amount of VFAs. This means more food for PAOs. The unique operating characteristics of the FMBR are designed to enable BioP in the same single reactor where SND occurs, when the proportion of each component in the influent is appropriate. Over the 12 month Plymouth Pilot Demo during 2020, Phosphorus levels were reduced from an average 10.0 mg P/L in the influent to <1.0 mg P/L in effluent. View the Pilot Study report here.

How does the FMBR minimize residual biosolids requiring disposal?

The Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment is designed to significantly reduce residual biosolids requiring offsite disposal. In the Plymouth Pilot Demo, the annual biosolids requiring discharge correlated to a 65% reduction of annual biosolids volume that requires offsite disposal.

First, many anaerobic or facultative anaerobic bacteria with low productive rate coefficients are enriched in the facultative environment. This results in a low sludge productive rate while meeting the requirement of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus degradation. Second, the sludge loading of the FMBR system is low and the sludge age is long. As a result, BNR microbes are basically in the endogenous respiration period, and the sludge growth rate and death rate are basically balanced. The benefit is a very small production of biosolids requiring offsite disposal, and a much longer amount of time between offsite disposal occurrences than traditional processes.

Some simultaneous nitrification-denitrification SND bacteria, e.g., Pseudomonas, have been observed in high abundance in the FMBR. However, they may not perform SND functions in certain environments. Meanwhile, some regular nitrifier/denitrifiers may perform like SND bacteria.

The Plymouth Airport Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment results demonstrate obvious, efficient removal of nitrogen in a low DO environment <0.5 mg/L, and simultaneously in a single vessel. We will further discuss the mechanism, as needed, but at present, many SND flora were observed during the Plymouth FMBR Pilot using DNA analysis. This combined with an absence of traditional N removal bacteria, suggests SND bacteria may play a key role in FMBR N removal (see Case Studies).

The FMBR system mainly uses SND to remove nitrogen. Do you use regular sludge?

  1. Our system detects that different influent has different ways to remove nitrogen. SND is one of them.
  2. We use ordinary sludge for domestication and cultivate a complex flora.

How do you control the DO? Do you use ORP to measure it? Do you use DO sensor to regulate the DO level?

We will design the system according to the influent and effluent requirements. Many factors will be considered during the design process, including the distribution of dissolved oxygen (DO), DO level, flow patterns, oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), etc. However, the specific control involves technical secrets, which is not convenient for elaboration.

How do you control the aeration to make sure the DO is uniform in the tank, especially for a large scale tank. What's your IP for your system?

We have implemented thousands of large and small projects, including retrofit projects and new projects, and have accumulated a wealth of experience.

Can your system remove dissolved metals like copper?

Since our system is a biological treatment system, it can’t remove dissolved inorganics. However, we can remove inorganics by adding chemical in the pre-treatment process, or we can install a copper adsorption system after our Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment process.

General Equipment

What are the typical effluent parameters achieved by FMBR technology?

For the typical municipal wastewater, our effluent can reach BOD530mg, TN10mg/L, TSS10mg/L.

What is the size and capacity of your package systems?

There are five types of Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment packaged systems:


FMBR Equipment TypeSize (ft)Theoretical CapacityRemark
JDL-FMBR-A9.2 X 49.2 X 11.6around 26,000 GPDDepending on the influent characteristics
JDL-FMBR-B9.2 X 40.4 X 11.6around 15,000 GPDDepending on the influent characteristics
JDL-FMBR-C9.2 X 31.2 X 11.6around 10,500 GPDDepending on the influent characteristics
JDL-FMBR-D6.6 X 29.7 X 9.5around 5,200 GPDDepending on the influent characteristics
JDL-FMBR-E6.6 X 21.2 X 9.5around 2,600 GPDDepending on the influent characteristics

What's the MLSS in the Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment?

8,000-12,000 ppm

What kind of aeration does the Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment have?

Compound aeration.

What screening size is recommended?


How do you handle the residual sludge? Can your sludge go to digestion before it goes to a landfill?

  1. Compared with the traditional process, our sludge yield is much less. Our sludge age is longer and basically digested more thoroughly.
  2. Generally, press filtration can be carried out first, and then landfill or resource treatment can be selected according to local requirements.

Is it disinfected with chlorine or ultraviolet light?

Due to the function of the membrane, our Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment equipment can remove Ecoli to some degree, however, it depends on the influent situation and permit limitation. We may need to add UV or chlorine disinfection. We can confirm requirements and results with DNA testing.

If we want to retrofit the existing system, e.g. sequencing batch reactors (SBR) tank, is this something JDL can support?

We generally provide integrated, complete process packages. We welcome retrofit opportunities.

What is its life expectancy knowing some soils can be full of clay? Other soils may have limestone in them. Is there access to inside the unit if it needs painting/welding?

Yes, there is access to the inside of our tank. However, the material of our equipment body is made by Carbon-Steel. It is very strong. No external damage to the equipment exterior is expected under normal use. Painting/welding is not needed under a normal operation.

What kind of pre-treatment do you need for a small multi-house FMBR system?

Usually, we can use the septic tanks as the pre-EQ tank. We can pump the wastewater from the septic tank to our system, and we will also cover the lifting pump with a screen box to remove some big material in the septic tank and protect our equipment.

Does it work well under cold water flows due to spring snowmelt? How about summer rainstorms?

We have many projects and applications in the northern part of China, where the temperature situation is similar. Meanwhile, in the low temperature situation, semi-underground construction type or some insulation structure is recommended. For the storm and rain season, our solution has a specially designed equalization tank.

As the FMBR system can realize remote control through the Internet, some may have concerns that they may not fully control the system, or the system may be attacked by a hacker.

We can connect the Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment control system to your MCC. You will have the full access to the system. We will also provide the training to let you be able to operate the system. We will not have control of the system.

How does it standup to power surges?

We have considered this situation and provide surge and voltage protection for the system.

FMBR vs. Membrane Bioreactor (MBR)

What is the main difference between FMBR and other integrated membrane bioreactor (MBR) systems? How does JDL protect this distinction, whether it is equipment IP, process IP or control IP

The main difference between Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment and traditional integrated MBR is that FMBR completes the simultaneous and efficient removal of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in a single reaction unit, while traditional integrated MBR requires multiple reaction units to complete the removal of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. For this difference, JDL protects equipment IP, process IP, and control IP, but it is mainly protected by process and control IP.

The activated sludge process under low DO conditions is very common in the industry and has been used for many years. How does JDL protect their technology to prevent other MBR suppliers from imitating FMBR under low DO conditions?

The activated sludge process under low oxygen conditions is indeed relatively common, but the FMBR process that achieves the simultaneous degradation of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic sludge under low oxygen conditions has certain technical barriers. Low DO conditions are one of our control points, and there are many other controls that enable the biological flora we need to become the dominant strains, protected by patents and technical secrets.

The pilot report mentioned that running MBR under low DO conditions will have a bad effect on the performance of the membrane. Why can JDL's membranes operate under low DO conditions without affecting the performance?

The Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment system combines high-efficiency composite aeration and membrane cleaning and regeneration technology to form the air burst effect and shock wave of the clean water medium, realize the washing of the microbes attached to the surface of the membrane and the inside of the membrane pores and the pore size dredging, which effectively guarantees the membrane flux. This ensures proper regeneration of the membrane system, thereby maintaining the performance of the membrane.

FMBR Membranes

For some MBR plants need to clean the membrane frequently. Will it happen in your system? What is the membrane clean period of your system?

Since FMBR is a low DO system, it doesn’t produce as much EPS as a traditional aerobic system, so the membrane fouling problem can be greatly reduced. We have an automatic backwash system. The aeration under the membrane module will also remove the solid adhering on the membrane. As a result, we don’t have to pull out the membrane and clean it frequently. For example, in our airport pilot project, the membrane cleaning circle is around 6 months.

Do you have chemical cleaning for the membrane? What cleaning chemicals do you use? Just like standard MBR? Do you need to take out the membrane for cleaning? When you clean the membrane where is the chemical going? Do you need to neutralize?

  1. Like an ordinary MBR, oxidants are generally used to wash membranes, such as sodium hypochlorite.
  2. The membrane washing cycle will be different for each project. As an example, the Plymouth FMBR Pilot wastewater includes restaurant wastewater, so there is a small amount of grease in the water. The membrane is removed and cleaned once every 5 months.
  3. The cleaned water will go to the equalization tank. The membrane washing oxidant such as sodium hypochlorite will quickly decompose in the water and does not need to be neutralized.

How do you clean the sludge attached to the membrane?

The Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment produces less EPS under low oxygen conditions, reducing membrane fouling problems. We apply aeration strategies to wash the membrane area.

Is the membrane a JDL brand? What's the cost to replace the membrane?

The membrane is not produced by JDL. It is produced by the membrane manufacturer. The price of the membrane is about the same as the price of the membrane provided by the famous international brands in the market.

Can the membranes be replaced easily?

It is easy to replace the membrane. For small systems like our package equipment, we can use a small crane to lift the membrane module and replace it. For large systems, however, usually we will use a bigger crane.

How does oil and grease impact the membrane? Do you have some requirements? What's your membrane expected life?

The influent grease is required to be less than 40 or 50, and a grease trap is required in the front section. Otherwise frequent membrane washing is required. The expected life of the membrane is about 8 to 10 years when maintained as required.

FMBR Maintenance

What's the backwash process? What's the washing water?

We have a program to control the backwash and use our effluent for backwashing.

Do you have a maintenance center in US? How do you provide spare parts?

  1. We have a wholly-owned subsidiary in New York, USA, which can provide maintenance services.
  2. There are several ways to provide spare parts. First, we provide spare parts free of charge within the warranty period. Second, we can provide maintenance services outside the warranty period, with an annual maintenance service agreement. Third, we offer after-sales service that responds positively within 24 hours.

If some parts go bad, can we get replacement parts quickly? When it finally does wear out, is the structural parts recyclable in scrap metal? Does the operation and maintenance manual have troubleshooting tips? Does it need special tools to service it?

Usually, we will prepare some spare parts for replacement on the site in case that it doesn’t work or broken. Meanwhile, we will also suggest our client to purchase some parts for daily maintenance. In the future, we will use more U.S. local parts so that our client can find the parts in the local market. We are also planning to rent a warehouse in New York, so that we can deliver the parts in a very short time if the client needs a replacement. The parts are made of normal material and can be recycled.

There are trouble indicating lamps on our equipment. We have troubleshooting tips in our O&M manual and can provide training so that our client can solve most of problem by themselves. We can also provide on-site technical service. In addition, we can monitor the equipment’s operation remotely and inform our client when there is a problem and help them fix it with our expert support.

What is the frequency for disposing of the sludge?

It depends on the influent parameter. In our PMA pilot project, sludge was disposed of twice over 12 months of operation in 2020.

FMBR Pricing and Pilot Demos

What is its price per MGD flow?

The price depends on the project scale, the equipment is just a carrier of our technology. We will design the system according to the actual project situation to guarantee the effluent quality, and of course, we will reduce as much cost as possible for the clients. And to release the financial pressure of our clients, we do BOT, BOOT, EPC and equipment rental mode, and provide zero-interest rate.

What's the cost for the 2,500 GPD to the 25,000 GPD modules, by cost/GPD?

Depending on the design capacity, influent characteristics and effluent criteria, and location, the difference will be relatively large. Under the same scale and the same influent and effluent conditions, Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment will have cost advantages, but the capital reduction must be analyzed by specific projects. Under normal circumstances, the price of a factory-built steel Facultative Membrane Bioreactor for wastewater treatment is about $5,000-$10,000 US dollars per average daily tons of wastewater treated.

Can you provide pilot equipment for rental? Do you have some requirements?

We can provide various methods such as equipment leasing or investment, and there are no specific requirements. We can negotiate the detail on the specific project.

Do you have any time schedule for a demonstration pilot?

Pilots are usually 3 to 6 months. You can refer to our pilot plan.