Microbial activity catalyzes oxygen transfer in membrane-aerated nitritating biofilm reactors

Carles Pellicer i Nàcher, Carlos Domingo Felez, Susanne Lackner, Barth F. Smets

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

The remarkable oxygen transfer efficiencies attainable in membrane-aerated biofilm reactors (MABRs) are expected to favor their prompt industrial implementation. However, tests in clean water, currently used for the estimation of their oxygen transfer potential, lead to wrong estimates once biofilm is present, significantly complicating reactor modelling and control. This study shows for the first time the factors affecting oxygen mass transfer across membranes during clean water tests and reactor operation via undisturbed microelectrode inspection and bulk measurements. The mass transfer resistance of the liquid boundary layer developed at the membrane-liquid interface during clean water tests accounted for two thirds of the total mass transfer resistance, suggesting a strong underestimation of the oxygen transfer rates when it is absent (e.g. after biofilm growth). Reactor operation to attain partial nitritation showed that predicted oxygen transfer rates are enhanced up to six times with biofilm activity. The higher availability of ammonia at the biofilm base drives this process. Such behavior can be captured with the addition of two terms (depending on system characteristics and reactor loading) to existing model structures. Overall, we provide tools to better estimate, model, and optimize oxygen transfer supporting a more energy-efficient approach to MABR operation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Volume446
Pages (from-to)465-471
Number of pages7
ISSN0376-7388
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Mass transfer
  • Membrane-aerated biofilm reactor
  • Nitritation
  • Microsensor
  • Aeration
  • Model

Cite this

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title = "Microbial activity catalyzes oxygen transfer in membrane-aerated nitritating biofilm reactors",
abstract = "The remarkable oxygen transfer efficiencies attainable in membrane-aerated biofilm reactors (MABRs) are expected to favor their prompt industrial implementation. However, tests in clean water, currently used for the estimation of their oxygen transfer potential, lead to wrong estimates once biofilm is present, significantly complicating reactor modelling and control. This study shows for the first time the factors affecting oxygen mass transfer across membranes during clean water tests and reactor operation via undisturbed microelectrode inspection and bulk measurements. The mass transfer resistance of the liquid boundary layer developed at the membrane-liquid interface during clean water tests accounted for two thirds of the total mass transfer resistance, suggesting a strong underestimation of the oxygen transfer rates when it is absent (e.g. after biofilm growth). Reactor operation to attain partial nitritation showed that predicted oxygen transfer rates are enhanced up to six times with biofilm activity. The higher availability of ammonia at the biofilm base drives this process. Such behavior can be captured with the addition of two terms (depending on system characteristics and reactor loading) to existing model structures. Overall, we provide tools to better estimate, model, and optimize oxygen transfer supporting a more energy-efficient approach to MABR operation.",
keywords = "Mass transfer, Membrane-aerated biofilm reactor, Nitritation, Microsensor, Aeration, Model",
author = "{Pellicer i N{\`a}cher}, Carles and {Domingo Felez}, Carlos and Susanne Lackner and Smets, {Barth F.}",
year = "2013",
doi = "10.1016/j.memsci.2013.06.063",
language = "English",
volume = "446",
pages = "465--471",
journal = "Journal of Membrane Science",
issn = "0376-7388",
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Microbial activity catalyzes oxygen transfer in membrane-aerated nitritating biofilm reactors. / Pellicer i Nàcher, Carles; Domingo Felez, Carlos; Lackner, Susanne; Smets, Barth F.

In: Journal of Membrane Science, Vol. 446, 2013, p. 465-471.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Microbial activity catalyzes oxygen transfer in membrane-aerated nitritating biofilm reactors

AU - Pellicer i Nàcher, Carles

AU - Domingo Felez, Carlos

AU - Lackner, Susanne

AU - Smets, Barth F.

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - The remarkable oxygen transfer efficiencies attainable in membrane-aerated biofilm reactors (MABRs) are expected to favor their prompt industrial implementation. However, tests in clean water, currently used for the estimation of their oxygen transfer potential, lead to wrong estimates once biofilm is present, significantly complicating reactor modelling and control. This study shows for the first time the factors affecting oxygen mass transfer across membranes during clean water tests and reactor operation via undisturbed microelectrode inspection and bulk measurements. The mass transfer resistance of the liquid boundary layer developed at the membrane-liquid interface during clean water tests accounted for two thirds of the total mass transfer resistance, suggesting a strong underestimation of the oxygen transfer rates when it is absent (e.g. after biofilm growth). Reactor operation to attain partial nitritation showed that predicted oxygen transfer rates are enhanced up to six times with biofilm activity. The higher availability of ammonia at the biofilm base drives this process. Such behavior can be captured with the addition of two terms (depending on system characteristics and reactor loading) to existing model structures. Overall, we provide tools to better estimate, model, and optimize oxygen transfer supporting a more energy-efficient approach to MABR operation.

AB - The remarkable oxygen transfer efficiencies attainable in membrane-aerated biofilm reactors (MABRs) are expected to favor their prompt industrial implementation. However, tests in clean water, currently used for the estimation of their oxygen transfer potential, lead to wrong estimates once biofilm is present, significantly complicating reactor modelling and control. This study shows for the first time the factors affecting oxygen mass transfer across membranes during clean water tests and reactor operation via undisturbed microelectrode inspection and bulk measurements. The mass transfer resistance of the liquid boundary layer developed at the membrane-liquid interface during clean water tests accounted for two thirds of the total mass transfer resistance, suggesting a strong underestimation of the oxygen transfer rates when it is absent (e.g. after biofilm growth). Reactor operation to attain partial nitritation showed that predicted oxygen transfer rates are enhanced up to six times with biofilm activity. The higher availability of ammonia at the biofilm base drives this process. Such behavior can be captured with the addition of two terms (depending on system characteristics and reactor loading) to existing model structures. Overall, we provide tools to better estimate, model, and optimize oxygen transfer supporting a more energy-efficient approach to MABR operation.

KW - Mass transfer

KW - Membrane-aerated biofilm reactor

KW - Nitritation

KW - Microsensor

KW - Aeration

KW - Model

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DO - 10.1016/j.memsci.2013.06.063

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