Simultaneous removal of organic matter and nitrogen compounds by an aerobic/anoxic membrane biofilm reactor

Halil Hasar, Siqing Xia, Chang Hoon Ahn, Bruce Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The hydrogen-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) has been well studied and applied for denitrification of nitrate-containing water and wastewater. Adding an oxygen-based MBfR allows total-nitrogen removal when the input nitrogen is ammonium. However, most wastewaters also contain a significant concentration or organic material, measured as chemical oxygen demand (COD). This study describes experiments to investigate the removal of organic and nitrogenous compounds in the combined Aerobic/Anoxic MBfR, in which an Aerobic MBfR (Aer MBfR) precedes an Anoxic MBfR (An MBfR). The experiments demonstrate that the Aer/An MBfR combination accomplished COD oxidation and nitrogen removal for a total oxygen demand flux (i.e., from COD and NH4 oxidations) in the range of 1.2-7.2 g O2/m2-d for 4.5 psi (0.3 atm) oxygen pressure to the Aer MBfR, but was overloaded and did not accomplish nitrification for the total oxygen demand load higher than 14 g O2/m2-d. Total-nitrogen removal was controlled by nitrification in the Aer MBfR, because the An MBfR denitrified all NO3- provided to it by the Aer MBfR. The overload of total oxygen demand did not affect COD oxidation in the Aer MBfR, but caused a small increase of COD in the An MBfR due to net release of soluble microbial products (SMP).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4109-4116
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • BOD oxidation
  • Membrane biofilm reactor
  • Total oxygen demand
  • Total oxygen flux
  • Total-nitrogen removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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