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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2009 Oct 15;104(3):483-91. doi: 10.1002/bit.22414.

Hydrogenotrophic denitrification and perchlorate reduction in ion exchange brines using membrane biofilm reactors.

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  • 1Aquateam-Norwegian Water Technology Center A/S, Rodeløkka N-0504 Oslo, Norway.


Halophilic (salt loving), hydrogenotrophic (H(2) oxidizing) denitrifying bacteria were investigated for treatment of nitrate (NO3-) and perchlorate (ClO4-) contaminated groundwater and ion exchange (IX) brines. Hydrogenotrophic denitrifying bacteria were enriched from a denitrifying wastewater seed under both halophilc and non-halophilc conditions. The cultures were inoculated into bench-scale membrane biofilm reactors (MBfRs) with an "outside in" configuration, with contaminated water supplied to the lumen of the membranes and H(2) supplied to the shell. Abiotic mass transfer tests showed that H(2) mass transfer coefficients were lower in brines than in tap water at highest Reynolds number, possibly due to increased transport of salts and decreased H(2) solubility at the membrane/liquid interface. An average NO3- removal efficiency of 93% was observed for the MBfR operated in continuous flow mode with synthetic contaminated groundwater. Removal efficiencies of 30% for NO3- and 42% for ClO4- were observed for the MBfR operated with synthetic IX brine in batch operating mode with a reaction time of 53 h. Phylogenetic analysis focused on the active microbial community and revealed that halotolerant, NO3- -reducing bacteria of the bacterial classes Gamma-Proteobacteria and Sphingobacteria were the metabolically dominant members within the stabilized biofilm. This study shows that, despite decreased H(2) transfer under high salt conditions, hydrogenotrophic biological reduction may be successfully used for the treatment of NO3- and ClO- in a MBfR.

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