Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.102, No.21, 9003-9014, 2018
Managing microbial communities in membrane biofilm reactors
Membrane biofilm reactors (MBfRs) deliver gaseous substrates to biofilms that develop on the outside of gas-transfer membranes. When an MBfR delivers electron donors hydrogen (H-2) or methane (CH4), a wide range of oxidized contaminants can be reduced as electron acceptors, e.g., nitrate, perchlorate, selenate, and trichloroethene. When O-2 is delivered as an electron acceptor, reduced contaminants can be oxidized, e.g., benzene, toluene, and surfactants. The MBfR's biofilm often harbors a complex microbial community; failure to control the growth of undesirable microorganisms can result in poor performance. Fortunately, the community's structure and function can be managed using a set of design and operation features as follows: gas pressure, membrane type, and surface loadings. Proper selection of these features ensures that the best microbial community is selected and sustained. Successful design and operation of an MBfR depends on a holistic understanding of the microbial community's structure and function. This involves integrating performance data with omics results, such as with stoichiometric and kinetic modeling.