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RESEARCH PAPER
Environmental Engineering Research 2007;12(4): 157-175.
THE MEMBRANE BIOFILM REACTOR IS A VERSATILE PLATFORM FOR WATER AND WASTEWATER TREATMENT
Bruce E. Rittmann
Center for Environmental Biotechnology Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-5701 U.S.A.
Corresponding Author: Bruce E. Rittmann ,Tel: 1-480-727-0434, Fax: 1-480-727-0889, Email: Rittmann@asu.edu
Received: August 9, 2007;  Accepted: September 10, 2007.
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ABSTRACT
The membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) creates a natural partnership of a membrane and biofilm, because a gas-transfer membrane delivers a gaseous substrate to the biofilm that grows on the membrane’s outer wall. O2-based MBfRs (called membrane aerated biofilm reactors, or MABRs) have existed for much longer than H2-based MBfRs, but the H2-based MBfR is a versatile platform for reducing oxidized contaminants in many water-treatment settings: drinking water, ground water, wastewater, and agricultural drainage. Extensive bench-scale experimentation has proven that the H2-based MBfR can reduce many oxidized contaminant to harmless or easily removed forms: e.g., NO3 - to N2, ClO4 - to H2O and Cl-, SeO4 2- to Se°, and trichloroethene (TCE) to ethene and Cl-. The MBfR has been tested at the pilot scale for NO3 - and ClO4 - and is now entering field-testing for many of the oxidized contaminants alone or in mixtures. For the MBfR to attain its full promise, several issues must be addressed by bench and field research: understanding interactions with mixtures of oxidized contaminants, treating waters with a high TDS concentration, developing modules that can be used in situ to augment pre-denitrification of wastewater, and keeping the capital costs low.
Keywords: Biofilm | Bio-reduction | Hydrogen | Membrane | Oxidized contamiants
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