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Abstract

An ultrafiltration membrane process was used to remove and biograde chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,2-dichloroethane (1,2-DCA) from dilute aqueous streams. The effect of microbial biodegradative activity on TCE and 1,2-DCA solute flux in a polypropylene membrane was examined using microbial strains Pseudomonas cepacia PR131 for the biodegradation of TCE and Xanthobacter autotrophicus GJ10 for the biodegradation of 1,2-DCA. Initial experiments were conducted in diaphragm cells in the absence of microorganisms to determine the diffusion coefficient of 1,2-DCA and TCE in the polypropylene ultrafiltration (UF) membranes. The diffusivities were 4.7 × 10−8 cm2/s for 1,2-DCA and 1.41 × 10−7 cm2/s for TCE. Subsequent experiments were conducted with microorganisms on the permeate side to examine the effect of microbial degradation of 1,2-DCA and TCE on the solute flux across the UF membrane. Experiments were conducted sequentially in batch and flow diaphragm cells and then in a hollow-fiber UF module to systematically examine the effect of microbial activity on the solute flux in each configuration and the ability of mathematical models to predict the microbial enhancement of solute flux. Microbial biodegradation of TCE and 1,2-DCA significantly enhanced the solute flux, and experimental results were correlated with steady- and nonsteady-state solute component balance models for the flow and batch diaphragm cells, respectively. Model and experimental results agree well. Implications for using membrane bioreactors to treat CAH contaminated groundwater and industrial effluents are discussed, as well as a method for examining the effect of biological reaction on membrane transport processes.