Ultrafiltration Membranes System: A Proposal to Remove Emerging Pollutants in Urban Wastewater

Membranes (Basel). 2022 Dec 7;12(12):1234. doi: 10.3390/membranes12121234.


Considering the important role that wastewater reuse plays in the water cycle and in the current water scenario immersed in a severe drought, the search for technologies that allow obtaining quality water for reuse is increasingly relevant. In this sense, the membrane biological reactor (MBR) is an alternative to traditional activated sludge systems, in which the separation of biomass and treatment water is carried out by membrane filtration instead of decantation. This study made it possible to confirm the presence of emerging pollutants in the wastewater entering the WWTPs under study, to study the behavior and performance of MBR systems with hollow fiber membranes and flat membranes in obtaining reclaimed wastewater for subsequent reuse, and to compare it with the degree of elimination obtained in conventional biological treatment. It has been demonstrated that this technology is almost 100% effective in the elimination of nutrients, organic matter, pathogens, organic micropollutants, metals, etc., and has achieved different percentages of success in eliminating emerging pollutants depending on their nature: 35% in insecticides and herbicides, 45% in anxiolytics, psychiatric drugs, and industrial disinfectants, 75% in antibiotics, and around 100% in analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and hormones. It has also contributed to the establishment of monitoring protocols for emerging pollutants in the WWTPs under study and to the evaluation of their risks, as well as the development and implementation of advanced regeneration systems that are economically favorable for increasing the quality of WWTP effluents for their reuse.

Keywords: emerging pollutants; membrane biological reactor; micropollutants; nutrients; pathogens; reuse.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.