Concomitant Cr(VI) reduction and Cr(III) precipitation with nitrate in a methane/oxygen-based membrane biofilm reactor

Min Long, Chen Zhou, Siqing Xia, Awoke Guadiea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


A continuously stirred methane (CH4) and oxygen (O2)-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) was investigated for removing chromium (Cr) from nitrate (NO3 )-contaminated drinking water. Cr(VI) at an initial concentration of 100 μg/L was rapidly reduced to Cr(III) with a removal rate of 89% and a hydraulic retention time of 48 h under normal denitrifying conditions in a methane/oxygen-based MBfR. A microbial community analysis indicated that Comamonadaceae, Cytophagaceae, Hyphomicrobiaceae and Alcaligenaceae were effective denitrifiers, Methylophilaceae and Methylococcaceae were functional methanotrophic bacteria, and Comamonadaceae was a kind of Cr(VI) reducers in the reactor. Cr(VI) was reduced to Cr(III), which precipitated and adsorbed onto the biofilm as Cr(OH)3, due to the alkaline produced during denitrification. When the CH4pressure increased from 0.02 to 0.03 MPa, the Cr(VI) reduction increased by 40.3%, and the NO3 reduction increased by 30.2%. Although the effluent Cr(VI) concentration increased with increasing influent loading, the removal efficiency of Cr(VI) reached the highest level of 99.8% under a high daily loading of 5.76 mg/d. Unlike a H2-based MBfR, it is possible to remove Cr from water without post-processing, such as precipitation, in a CH4/O2-based MBfR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-66
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - 2017


  • Biofilm
  • Chromium (Cr)
  • Membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR)
  • Methane
  • Nitrate (NO )

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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