The membrane biofilm reactor: The natural partnership of membranes and biofilm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Many exciting new technologies for water-quality control combine microbiological processes with adsorption, advanced oxidation, a membrane or an electrode to improve performance, address emerging contaminants or capture renewable energy. An excellent example is the H2-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR), which delivers H2 gas to a biofilm that naturally accumulates on the outer surface of a bubbleless membrane. Autotrophic bacteria in the biofilm oxidise the H2 and use the electrons to reduce NO3-, CIO4- and other oxidised contaminants. This natural partnership of membranes and biofilm makes it possible to gain many cost, performance and simplicity advantages from using H2 as the electron donor for microbially catalysed reductions. The MBfR has been demonstrated for denitrification in drinking water; reduction of perchlorate in groundwater; reduction of selenate, chromate, trichloroethene and other emerging contaminants; advanced N removal in wastewater treatment and autotrophic total-N removal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 11 2006


  • Biofilm
  • Hydrogen
  • Membrane
  • Microbial reduction
  • Nutrient removal
  • Oxidised contaminants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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