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Online course

13. Membrane Bioreactors

Filtration of activated sludge by membranes is an emerging technology in wastewater treatment substituting traditional settling tanks for solid-liquid separation. This innovative course covers fundamental principles of membrane separation and provide an overview of membrane reactors. You will also learn about performance and effluent quality of membrane bioreactors (MBR), membrane fouling and control, and cleaning procedures of fouled membranes and other fouling control methods. Part of the curriculum deals with MBR plant design, operation and maintenance, and practical applications, including case studies. The course also explains the future trends in MBR technology and includes myriad of examples and exercise. By the end of this course you will have advanced knowledge about MBR systems that will enable you to approach this technology with increased confidence based on stronger competence.

Welcome by Prof. Xia Huang

Course information

  • Learning Objectives

    After completion of the course you should be able to:

  • Syllabus

    This course covers the following topics:

    • Membrane Separation Principles;
    • Introduction of Membrane Bioreactors;
    • Wastewater Treatment and Effluent Quality;
    • Membrane Fouling Characterization;
    • Membrane Fouling Control;
    • MBR Plant Design, Operation, and Maintenance: Process Composition and Pretreatment;
    • MBR Plant Design, Operation, and Maintenance: Biological Treatment Units;
    • MBR Plant Design, Operation and Maintenance: Membrane Filtration System;
    • Practical Applications – Part I;
    • Practical Applications – Part 2;
    • Future Trends of MBR Systems.
  • Organization

    Courses in this series consist of video lectures, presentation slides, reading materials, exercises, and assignments with solutions. In principle, each video presentation has its complementary presentation slides. All videos are available for viewing in the section “Video-recorded presentations”. The materials are packaged in three (.zip) files, namely, the “Videos”, the “Presentations”, and the “Documents”. Files may be of considerable size, so you need to ensure that your computer has sufficient bandwidth and capacity for downloading. This course is based on the chapter in the book “Biological Wastewater Treatment: Principles, Modeling, and Design” 2nd edition (Chen et al., 2020). To check and expand your knowledge on the subject, it is recommended to study the corresponding chapter in the complementary book  “Biological Wastewater Treatment: Examples and Exercises” (Lopez-Vazquez et al., 2023). The two chapters are open access and available in the section “Documents (.zip) on this webpage.

  • Delivery Method

    This course is currently designed for a SELF-STUDY mode. It is FREE, and does not include guidance, support, exams, assessment, and certification. It is possible that shortly, the series (or its parts) will be adopted by institutions that may deliver the guided version, including certification. As soon as this is the case, it will be advertised on this website.



  • Open Access

    The content is available for free unlimited access and use, consistent with Global Sanitation Graduate School’s commitment to ensuring open access to information and knowledge. Please note that the video materials fall under the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license (, presentations under the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license  (, readers (OA books of IWA Publishing) under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license (, and other readers under the license specified by the publisher. Although care has been taken to ensure the integrity and quality of these materials and information, no responsibility is assumed by the author(s), Global Sanitation Graduate School, or IHE Delft Institute for Water Education for any damage to property or persons as a result of the use of these materials and/or the information contained herein.

Video-recorded presentations

Here you can watch all video-recorded lectures in this course.

13.1 Membrane Separation Principles

Xia Huang


1 of 11

13.2 Introduction to Membrane Bioreactors

Xia Huang


2 of 11

13.3 Wastewater Treatment and Effluent Quality

Shuai Liang


3 of 11

13.4 Membrane Fouling Characterization

Fangang Meng ▪ Yu-Xi Huang


4 of 11

13.5 Membrane Fouling Control

Fangang Meng ▪ Yu-Xi Huang


5 of 11

13.6 MBR Plant Design, O&M: Process Composition and Pre-treatment

Kang Xiao


6 of 11

13.7 MBR Plant Design, O&M: Biological Treatment Units

Kang Xiao


7 of 11

13.8 MBR Plant Design, O&M: Membrane Filtration System

Kang Xiao


8 of 11

13.9 Practical Applications - Part 1

Jiao Zhang


9 of 11

13.10 Practical Applications - Part 2

Hector A. Garcia


10 of 11

13.11 Future Trends in Membrane Bioreactor Systems

Xia Huang


11 of 11

Download course materials

In this section, you can download all presentations, and other documents that make up this course.

  • 13 | Videos (.zip)
    Xia Huang ▪ Fangang Meng ▪ Shuai Liang ▪ Kang Xiao ▪ Hector A. Garcia ▪ Jiao Zhang ▪ Yu-Xi Huang
    (14,338.0 MB)
  • 13 | Presentations (.zip)
    Xia Huang ▪ Fangang Meng ▪ Shuai Liang ▪ Kang Xiao ▪ Hector A. Garcia ▪ Jiao Zhang ▪ Yu-Xi Huang
    (59.9 MB)
  • 13 | Documents (.zip)
    Xia Huang ▪ Fangang Meng ▪ Shuai Liang ▪ Kang Xiao ▪ Hector A. Garcia ▪ Jiao Zhang ▪ Yu-Xi Huang
    (12.4 MB)


Prof. Damir Brdjanovic, PhD

Course resource person | IHE Delft Institute for Water Education