Introduction to MBBR (Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor)

MBBR, which stands for Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor, is an innovative wastewater treatment technology that utilizes a biofilm process to remove pollutants and organic matter from water. This advanced system has gained significant popularity in recent years due to its efficiency and versatility in treating various types of wastewater. One crucial aspect of the MBBR system is the selection of the right MBBR media, as it directly impacts the overall performance and effectiveness of the treatment process.

Importance of Choosing the Right MBBR Media

Selecting the appropriate MBBR media is of utmost importance when designing an MBBR system. The media serves as a habitat for microorganisms responsible for the biological degradation of pollutants present in the wastewater. The right choice of MBBR media ensures optimal microbial growth and activity, leading to improved treatment efficiency and higher pollutant removal rates. Moreover, the selection of suitable media also influences factors such as the surface area available for biofilm formation, hydraulic performance, and overall system maintenance.

Understanding MBBR Media

A. Definition and Purpose of MBBR Media

MBBR media refers to the specially designed carriers or support materials that provide a surface for the attachment and growth of microorganisms. These media are typically made from various materials such as plastic, foam, or other chemically inert substances. The primary purpose of MBBR media is to create a favorable environment for the colonization of bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms that play a vital role in the biological treatment of wastewater.

B. Role of MBBR Media in Wastewater Treatment

The MBBR media act as a substrate for biofilm formation, where microorganisms form a thin layer or film on the media surface. This biofilm is responsible for the removal of organic compounds and nutrients from the wastewater through a complex series of biological reactions. The media provide a large surface area for the attachment and growth of microorganisms, allowing for enhanced biological activity and the formation of a robust and efficient microbial community.

Key Factors to Consider When Selecting MBBR Media

When choosing MBBR media, several crucial factors should be taken into account to ensure optimal performance and compatibility with the specific wastewater treatment requirements. These factors include:

1. Surface area

The media should have a high surface area to facilitate the attachment and growth of microorganisms. A larger surface area allows for a greater number of biofilm-forming microorganisms, leading to improved treatment efficiency.

2. Voidage

Voidage refers to the percentage of empty space within the media. It is crucial to have an optimal voidage to ensure sufficient oxygen transfer and wastewater flow distribution throughout the reactor.

3. Density

The media should have a specific density that allows it to remain suspended in the reactor without settling or floating. This ensures effective mixing and contact between the media and the wastewater.

4. Chemical Inertness

MBBR media should be chemically inert to prevent any adverse reactions with the wastewater or the biological processes taking place within the reactor. Chemical stability ensures the long-term performance and durability of the media.

5. Durability

The media should be resistant to physical and chemical degradation, maintaining their structural integrity over an extended period. This ensures a longer lifespan and minimizes the need for frequent media replacement.

6. Biological Activity and Kinetics

The biological activity and kinetics of the microorganisms present in the wastewater are critical considerations when choosing MBBR media. The media should provide a suitable environment for the growth and attachment of the desired microorganisms responsible for efficient pollutant removal. Factors such as media surface properties, porosity, and material composition influence the microbial colonization and activity, ultimately affecting the treatment performance.

7. Media Shape and Size

The shape and size of MBBR media play a crucial role in determining the hydraulic characteristics, mixing efficiency, and biofilm development. Different media shapes, such as spherical, cylindrical, or irregular, offer varying advantages in terms of surface area, voidage, and flow distribution. The media size should be carefully selected to ensure proper hydraulic retention time, allowing sufficient contact between the wastewater and the biofilm.

8. Media Surface Roughness and Adsorbing capacity

A MBBR media should have rough surface and adsorbing capacity which allows for faster attachment and detachment of biofilms on its surface.

9. Degree of filling required

Degree of filling refers to the amount of MBBR media required per m3 of reactor volume. It is usually expressed as percentage of reactor volume. The filling ratio is highly specific property of MBBR media and it is governed by its surface area, media size and shape, amount of biofilm retained and biofilm thickness formed on it, weight and diffusion gradient obtained due to biofilm thickness.

Based on the above combination of properties, a specific filling ratio is obtained for each MBBR media. Too low filling ratio can result in heavier colonization while too high filling ratio result in excessive mixing energy required, higher diffusion gradient resulting in poor penetration of pollutants within biofilms which in turn reduces the removal efficiency of MBBR reactor.

10. Hydrophilicity and Hydrophobicity of surface

Hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity of the MBBR media surface is one of the important properties while considering MBBR media. Hydrophobic surface causes additional resistance to the biofilm formation. Due to hydrophobic surface, the wetting time required for such MBBR media increases a lot and thus results in slower biofilm formation. Hydrophobic MBBR media requires atleast 4-6 weeks for effective biofilm formation.

While hydrophilic surface have lower resistance to biofilm formation. Hydrophilic surface allows faster wetting of the media surface and thus quicker formation of biofilms on it resulting on faster process start up.    

11. Specific Wastewater Treatment Requirements

Consider the specific characteristics and composition of the wastewater to determine the MBBR media that can effectively treat the pollutants present. Factors such as the nature and concentration of pollutants, nutrient levels, and temperature should be considered to ensure effective treatment and compliance with regulatory standards.

12. Operational Considerations

Operational considerations, including media handling, installation, and maintenance, should be taken into account. Factors such as media weight, buoyancy, and ease of cleaning or replacement can significantly impact the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the MBBR system.

Different Types of MBBR Media

Several types of MBBR media are available in the market, each offering unique characteristics and advantages. Common types of MBBR media include:

1. Plastic Media

Plastic media is the most common type of MBBR media. It is made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP) and has a large surface area for biofilm attachment. Plastic media provides excellent aeration and mixing, facilitating the growth of microorganisms and enhancing wastewater treatment efficiency.

2. Foam Media

Foam media is a lightweight and porous material often used in MBBR systems. It is typically made of open-cell polyurethane foam. Foam media provides a large surface area and allows for high biofilm retention and oxygen transfer, leading to effective pollutant removal. Its lightweight nature also reduces energy consumption for mixing.

3. Hybrid Media

Hybrid media combines different materials to achieve optimal performance. For example, it may consist of a plastic core with a biofilm carrier made of a different material. Hybrid media aims to maximize the advantages of each material, such as high surface area, good buoyancy, and enhanced biofilm growth, to improve overall treatment efficiency.

4. Cross-linked Polyethylene (PE) Media

Cross-linked PE media is a type of plastic media that has undergone a cross-linking process to increase its durability and strength. This media offers excellent chemical resistance and is capable of withstanding harsh wastewater conditions. Cross-linked PE media provides a stable substrate for biofilm growth and ensures long-term performance.

The selection of the most suitable media type depends on the specific wastewater treatment requirements, system design, and desired treatment outcomes. Evaluating the pros and cons of each media type is crucial in making an informed decision.

Comparing MBBR Media Options

When comparing different MBBR media options, it is essential to consider various factors, such as:

  • Surface area-to-volume ratio
  • Voidage and hydraulic performance
  • Surface roughness and adsorbing capacity
  • Hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity
  • Degree of filling required
  • Biological activity and treatment efficiency
  • Material durability and longevity
  • Ease of installation and maintenance

Careful evaluation of these factors will help determine the most suitable MBBR media for a particular application, ensuring optimal performance and long-term reliability.

While different MBBR media have their own advantages, plastic  MBBR Media have certain disadvantages such as :

  • Limited surface area
  • Longer  biofilm formation duration
  • Fragility and susceptibility to breakage
  • Inadequate mass transfer properties
  • Lack of surface property modification 
  • Higher degree of filling required
  • Higher weight and associated mixing energy requirement due to it

Due to its specific properties and attributes, Levapor MBBR media which is a PU foam based media impregnated with activated carbon stands out as one of the most suitable MBBR media for the biological wastewater treatment processes.

Introducing Levapor PU Foam MBBR Media as Ideal MBBR Media

PU Foam MBBR media is an innovative and highly efficient type of MBBR media that offers several advantages over traditional media options. It is specifically designed to provide an ideal environment for microorganisms to thrive and efficiently treat wastewater. The unique properties of PU foam media make it a preferred choice in various wastewater treatment applications.

Levapor MBBR Media Properties

  • Higher specific surface area
  • Light weight and higher specific gravity
  • Higher inner porosity and voids
  • Higher surface roughness and adsorbing capacity due to carbon impregnation
  • Cuboid shape

A. High Surface Area-to-Volume Ratio

PU Foam MBBR media is an innovative and highly efficient type of MBBR media that offers several advantages over traditional media options. It is specifically designed to provide an ideal environment for microorganisms to thrive and efficiently treat wastewater. The unique properties of PU foam media make it a preferred choice in various wastewater treatment applications.

B. Lightweight and higher specific gravity

PU foam media is lightweight and has specific gravity slightly higher than water. allowing for easy handling, installation, and maintenance. The slightly higher specific gravity ensures proper suspension in the reactor, facilitating optimal mixing and contact between the media and wastewater.

C. Higher inner porosity and voids

Higher inner porosity and voids present in the Levapor PU foam MBBR media due to reticulation allows retention of a very high amount of biomass within the Levapor media. It also protects the biofilms against toxic shock loads and adverse conditions in the reactor. So complete wash out of biofilms is prevented.

D. Higher surface roughness and adsorbing capacity due to impregnation of activated carbon

Due to impregnation of activated carbon on reticulated PU foam, Levapor MBBR media has higher surface roughness and adsorbing capacity which allows for quicker biofilm formation and process start up compared to conventional plastic material based MBBR media.

E. Excellent Biofilm Formation

The open-cell structure of PU foam media provides an ideal substrate for biofilm formation. The controlled porosity and surface characteristics promote the attachment and growth of microorganisms, resulting in the development of a robust and efficient biofilm for effective pollutant degradation.

F. Long Lifespan and Durability

PU foam media is known for its durability and long lifespan. The material is resistant to physical and chemical degradation, ensuring its structural integrity over an extended period. The longevity of PU foam media reduces the need for frequent replacements, resulting in cost savings and reduced downtime.

Above combination of Levapor MBBR media properties offer following specific advantages making it an ideal choice for MBBR media

Advantages of PU Foam MBBR Media

PU foam MBBR media offers several advantages that make it an ideal choice for wastewater treatment applications:

  • Faster colonization and quicker process start up
  • Lower degree of filling required
  • Better fluidization and lower mixing energy requirement
  • Protection against toxic shock loads
  • Longer life span of media and minimal break up


In conclusion, selecting the right MBBR media is crucial for the overall performance and effectiveness of an MBBR system. Factors such as surface area, voidage, specific wastewater treatment requirements, biological activity, media shape and size, and operational considerations should be carefully evaluated. PU foam MBBR media offers significant advantages in terms of surface area-to-volume ratio, lightweight and specific gravity properties, excellent biofilm formation, and long lifespan. Considering these factors and the unique benefits of PU foam media can help ensure the successful implementation of an MBBR system for efficient wastewater treatment.

If you are looking for an ideal MBBR media for your wastewater treatment needs, our PU Foam MBBR Media is the solution you’ve been searching for. Contact us at today to learn more about our products and how they can benefit your specific application.

For further insights into the successful implementation of PU Foam MBBR Media and its applications, refer to our case studies and other relevant links below.

Discover real-world examples of how our media has contributed to efficient and sustainable wastewater treatment processes.

Author Bio

Amit Christian is a MSc graduate in Environment Science from Middlesex University, London, UK. He has been active in the field of water and wastewater treatment since 1998. He specializes in design, engineering, and management of various biological wastewater treatments such as Activated Sludge Process (ASP), Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR), Moving Bed Bio Reactor (MBBR), Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge (IFAS). He has helped various Industrial and Municipal clients in troubleshooting , optimizing their biological wastewater treatment processes to achieve latest Stringent norms for Ammonia Removal.

Related case studies & other links