Current Pollution Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 23–34 | Cite as

Osmotic Membrane Bioreactor and Its Hybrid Systems for Wastewater Reuse and Resource Recovery: Advances, Challenges, and Future Directions

Water Pollution (G Toor and L Nghiem, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Water Pollution


Osmotic membrane bioreactor (OMBR), which integrates forward osmosis (FO) with biological treatment process, has been recently developed to advance wastewater treatment and reuse. During OMBR operation, driven by osmotic pressure gradient, biologically treated water transports from the mixed liquor, through a semi-permeable FO membrane, into a highly concentrated draw solution. Compared to conventional MBR, OMBR has several advantages, including better product water quality, lower fouling propensity, and higher fouling reversibility. OMBR can be operated in the osmotic dilution mode when the draw solution, such as liquid fertilizers or seawater, can be reused or discharged directly. In most cases, OMBR is integrated with an additional process, commonly including reverse osmosis, membrane distillation, and electrodialysis, to form hybrid systems for sustainably reconcentrating draw solutions and producing clean water for reuse. In addition, several membrane processes, such as microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and electrodialysis, are combined with OMBR to address its inherent issue, salinity build-up in the bioreactor, and achieve resource (e.g., nutrients and energy) recovery. This review aims to provide a comprehensive understanding on the performance of OMBR and its hybrid systems in wastewater reuse and resource recovery. OMBR analogs and their performance are also systematically introduced. Key technical challenges and their potential solutions to the further development of OMBR and its hybrid systems are highlighted. This review sheds light on future research for the further development of OMBR and its hybrid systems.


Osmotic membrane bioreactor Forward osmosis Salinity build-up Wastewater reuse Resource recovery 



This work was supported under the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 51708547).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Farmland Soil Pollution Prevention and Remediation, College of Resources and Environmental SciencesChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Agricultural Resources and EnvironmentGuizhou Academy of Agricultural SciencesGuiyangChina

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