MBBR in Ethiopia

By: Tom Frankel
Post Date: May 23rd 2018

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The MBBR process is a popular choice for industrial wastewater treatment plants in countries like Ethiopia where the textile business is growing quickly, and a simple, powerful wastewater process is required.  In contrast to conventional activated sludge plants, MBBR’s require significantly less land, and do not use a return of activated sludge line (RAS), so there is no sludge blanket to measure in the clarifier. This makes it easier to operate an MBBR on a day to day basis than a conventional plant, which is important in a country like Ethiopia which is developing and may lack experienced wastewater treatment plant operators.

In this post, we would like to walk you through what an Ethiopian MBBR wastewater treatment plant might look like.


Below is the MBBR media.  We used this on a project in Bangladesh for a blue jeans factory in Dhaka, hence you can see some blue color in the media and the wastewater.   Ethiopia also has denim mills.

MBBR Media at a Blue Jeans Factory



This video shows the process of adding MBBR media to the bioreactor.  Proper design is critical as media is not a commodity. The specific gravity of the media, as well as the uniformity are important, and one has to calculate surface area loading rates and media fill in a scientific way, not based on capital budgets.   MBBR is not an expensive process for a mill in Addis Ababa, for example, however you have to look at overall costs.  The total cost of the plant includes civil work and land, not just mechanical equipment.



This photograph shows the color of the wastewater as it comes into the plant and enters the equalization basin.

EQ Tank at a Blue Jeans Factory before the MBBR


From there it is gravity fed to the anoxic tank.

Anoxic Tank at a Blue Jeans Factory


…and then into the MBBR reactor.

MBBR Bioreactor Tank at a Blue Jeans Factory


It surprised us at this denim factory how much color was removed by the MBBR.  Prior to this stage, there was no special treatment for color removal!

MBBR Clarifier Outlet at a Blue Jeans Factory


And here is the treated water below…

Final Effluent at a Blue Jeans Factory



With the MBBR process whether you are in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, India, the UAE, or Sri Lanka, you do not need a return sludge line.  You probably also do not need to construct new tanks, if you already have a wastewater treatment plant that is not meeting your targets.    With our hard-science approach based on years of involvement in scientific research, including published papers,   dozens of successful installations worldwide including our local markets in the US and Canada and abroad, we know the limitations of the process and will drive value for you and your clients.   We will size the MBBR reactor with the minimum possible investment that will deliver results. In Ethiopia, you need good technical advice that you can count on when planning your MBBR.  Let SSI be your reliable partner.

Ask us for a proposal for your effluent treatment plant here.   You will be glad that you did.