Making good use of methane to remove oxidized contaminants from wastewater

Ling Dong Shi, Zhen Wang, Tao Liu, Mengxiong Wu, Chun Yu Lai, Bruce E. Rittmann, Jianhua Guo, He Ping Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Being an energetic fuel, methane is able to support microbial growth and drive the reduction of various electron acceptors. These acceptors include a broad range of oxidized contaminants (e.g., nitrate, nitrite, perchlorate, bromate, selenate, chromate, antimonate and vanadate) that are ubiquitously detected in water environments and pose threats to human and ecological health. Using methane as electron donor to biologically reduce these contaminants into nontoxic forms is a promising solution to remediate polluted water, considering that methane is a widely available and inexpensive electron donor. The understanding of methane-based biological reduction processes and the responsible microorganisms has grown in the past decade. This review summarizes the fundamentals of metabolic pathways and microorganisms mediating microbial methane oxidation. Experimental demonstrations of methane as an electron donor to remove oxidized contaminants are summarized, compared, and evaluated. Finally, the review identifies opportunities and unsolved questions that deserve future explorations for broadening understanding of methane oxidation and promoting its practical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117082
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Aerobic methane oxidation
  • Anaerobic methane oxidation
  • Membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR)
  • Nitrate/nitrite-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation (n-DAMO)
  • Oxidized contaminants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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