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Rui Li

Rui Li


PhD project: Exploring and developing membrane-based technologies: ceramic membrane bioreactors (MBR) / biomimetic forward osmosis (BMFO) membranes in removal of pharmaceutical pollutants.
University: Aarhus University
Department: Department of Environmental Science
Supervisor: Kai Bester, Professor with Special Responsibilities, Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University
Project term: 01.06.2018 to 31.05.2021
Master’s degree: MSc in Environmental Science, Specialization in Photochemistry, Fudan University, China.


Recently, the presence of pharmaceuticals and other anthropogenic trace contaminants in the aquatic environment has gained significant attention among scientists and public. Some pharmaceutical pollutants are known for affecting aquatic life at a very low concentration. In effluents of wastewater treatment plants, many pharmaceuticals have been detected at concentrations (ng/L to μg/L).

MBR (Membrane bioreactor) technology is one of the modern wastewater treatment technologies. It has many advantages over traditional activated sludge process. With the separation of membranes, sludge can be operated at higher sludge ages, and higher sludge densities, thus giving enhanced properties in comparison with the traditional activated sludge system. In this research, traditional polymeric membranes are replaced by modern ceramic membranes which allow more drastic operation in cleaning mode and less backpressure.

Biomimetic forward osmosis (BMFO) technology is a concept that allows physical separation of molecules. As opposed to classical nanofiltration, this approach doesn’t need external pressure as it operates based on the osmotic pressure, which is delivered by the salinity of draw solutions.

1. Establish and optimize the new ceramic MBR pilot and BMFO pilot,

2. Investigate the removal rates of different pharmaceuticals and the formation rates of the transformation products in MBR system under different operation conditions, and research the influence mechanism,

3. Explore the optimal operation condition of the BMFO system and further treat the effluent of MBR system to remove the target compounds more effectively.


  • Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University
  • Liqtech International A/S, Denmark
  • Aquaporin A/S, Denmark
  • BIOFOS A/S, Denmark

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