Although membrane bioreactors (MBRs) technology is still a growing sector, its progressive implementation all over the world, together with great technical achievements, has allowed it to reach a mature degree, just comparable to other more conventional wastewater treatment technologies. With current energy requirements around 0.6–1.1 kWh/m3 of treated wastewater and investment costs similar to conventional treatment plants, main market niche for MBRs can be areas with very high restrictive discharge limits, where treatment plants have to be compact or where water reuse is necessary. Operational costs are higher than for conventional treatments; consequently there is still a need and possibilities for energy saving and optimisation. This paper presents the development of a knowledge-based decision support system (DSS) for the integrated operation and remote control of the biological and physical (filtration and backwashing or relaxation) processes in MBRs. The core of the DSS is a knowledge-based control module for air-scour consumption automation and energy consumption minimisation.
Keywords: automatic control, decision support system, energy saving, fouling, knowledge-based, membrane bioreactors