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. O 2-based MBfRs (called membrane aerated biofilm reactors, or MABRs) have existed for much longer than H 2-based MBfRs, but the H 2-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 H 2-based MBfR can reduce many oxidized contaminant to harmless or easily removed forms: e.g., NO 3 - to N 2, ClO 4 - to H 2O and Cl -, SeO 4 2- to Se°, and trichloroethene (TCE) to ethene and Cl -. The MBfR has been tested at the pilot scale for NO 3 - and ClO 4 -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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-175
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Bio-reduction
  • Biofilm
  • Hydrogen
  • Membrane
  • Oxidized contamiants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The membrane biofilm reactor is a versatile platform for water and wastewater treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this