Development and Demonstration of a Hollow Fiber Membrane Bioreactor for Cometabolic Degradation of Chlorinated Solvents

EPA Grant Number: U915323
Title: Development and Demonstration of a Hollow Fiber Membrane Bioreactor for Cometabolic Degradation of Chlorinated Solvents
Investigators: Pressman, Jonathan G.
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 26, 1998 through July 1, 2001
Project Amount: $93,235
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Environmental Engineering , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Academic Fellowships


Contamination of groundwater and soils with chlorinated aliphatic solvents is a widespread problem. The overall objective of this research project is to develop a new technology to address chlorinated solvent problems. The technology will treat ethenes, ethanes, and chlorinated methanes, handle mixed wastes containing chemicals that are toxic to the organisms, and be applicable to both contaminated water and air streams. The specific objectives of this research project are to: (1) demonstrate successful performance of the hollow fiber membrane (HFM) bioreactor for treating trichloroethylene-contaminated water and air; (2) understand the fundamental interactions between and among microbial metabolism and bioreactor performance; (3) understand the engineering design variables to develop a system design strategy; and (4) extend HFM bioreactor studies to other chlorinated solvents and mixtures of chlorinated solvents.


One promising approach for treating chlorinated solvents is to destroy them through cometabolism in aerobic biological processes. The feasibility of using microporous HFMs to remove chlorinated solvents from water with subsequent cometabolic biodegradation by methanotrophic bacteria was demonstrated previously in our laboratory. This research project is designed to develop, operate, and optimize the HFM system. I will identify important process variables and the interactions among them, the appropriate system configuration, and the optimal operating strategies. Computer models of the process will be refined to assist in the analysis, design, and operation of the process.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, hollow fiber membrane, HFM, trichloroethylene, methanotrophs, biodegradation, bioreactor, chlorinated solvents, groundwater, cometabolic degradation., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Waste, Water, National Recommended Water Quality, Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry, Hazardous Waste, Biochemistry, Bioremediation, Chemistry and Materials Science, Groundwater remediation, Hazardous, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, biodegradability, mixed waste, hollow fiber membrane reactors, methane degrading bacteria, biodegradation, cometabolism, membrane bioreactors, contaminated soil, membrane processes, Trichloroethylene, aerobic cometabolism, bioreactors, chlorinated organics, contaminated groundwater, groundwater contamination, chlorinated chemicals, contaminated aquifers, contaminated soils, groundwater, TCE

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000
  • Final