Key Message

Dairy wastewater is characterized by having FOG and hardness. Berghof external tubular UF can handle this wastewater in the best way: the cross-flow operation and fouling prevention strategies – together with the adaptive mode of operation – provides the most reliable and cost-effective process for treating the challenging dairy wastewater.

Benefits of MBR Treatment with tubular UF

For dairy wastewater with low-medium strength the MBR process is applied, by coupling the Berghof external UF membranes to the biological reactor. The biological process typically presents the so-called DN configuration, in order to remove both carbon and nitrogen.

The external tubular MBR for dairy wastewater treatment has numerous advantages over the conventional biological processes and the submerged MBRs:


Robustness against the huge fluctuations in dairy wastewater quality. The organic load peaks are known to overstrain the conventional activated sludge treatments and can also promote the fouling of submerged membranes. The filtration conditions in Berghof tubular UF are easily adapted to fluctuations, providing the most stable operation under any circumstance.

Effluent Quality​​

Application of a conventional activated sludge (CAS) technology in dairy industry is known to present poor sludge settleability. This can hamper the fulfillment of tight discharge limits. <br><br>Our external tubular MBR technology presents COD removals even higher than 99%, producing a clear effluent, free of solids and FOG and COD &lt; 50 mg/L.

Ability to cope with FOG

a DAF pretreatment is typically installed in the dairy wastewater treatment plants. Berghof tubular PVDF membranes are not significantly affected by the presence of FOG that can leak from the DAF , especially when the organic load changes. In many cases, the DAF pretreatment can be avoided, with the consequent savings in chemical consumption and sludge management.


Hardness can be high in dairy wastewater and precipitation of carbonates is prone to occur in the bioreactor, leading to scaling of membranes in submerged MBRs or carriers in MBBRs. The cake layer formed on our tubular membrane reduces the risk of biomineralization of carbonates and avoids the chemical treatment required in submerged MBRs for hardness removal.

Dairy MBR wastewater treatment - the process

The waste streams generated in the different dairy operations are mixed in the equalization tank. Here, chemicals are often required for neutralization, since the use of acid and alkaline products for cleaning and sanitizing results in a highly variable pH. 

For certain dairy products such as butter, the oil concentration can be significant: under these circumstances, a DAF pre-treatment is typically applied.

The tubular MBR is the core process for treating the low-medium strength dairy wastewater. The biological treatment comprises anoxic and aerobic stages when nitrogen removal is required. If not, only the aerated bioreactor is installed for removing the organic pollutants.

The MBR effluent fully complies with the requirements for discharge into a receiving water body. Alternatively, it can be reused in non-contact applications (steam generation, cooling towers…). In those reuses that require deionized water, a final reverse osmosis is implemented.

Dairy mbr wastewater treatment PFD

Manufactured in Germany


Made in a state-of-the art LEAN-production facility, with highly-trained production personnel and materials of the highest quality.

With 50 years of experience and more than 2.000 projects worldwide, Berghof Membranes is the leading manufacturer of high quality tubular membranes.  

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The B-CARE® program is an end-to-end comprehensive program developed to support our OEM partners from the piloting and engineering phase to operational system monitoring.

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Customer stories

Case Studies

50 years of experience and more than 2.000 project references across the globe.


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