Process intensification in wastewater treatment: Ferrous iron removal by a sustainable membrane bioreactor system

Turgay Pekdemir, Bulent Keskinler, Ergun Yildiz, Galip Akay

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Biooxidation of ferrous iron (Fe2+) from strongly acidic industrial wastewater with a high Fe2+ content by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans in a packed bed reactor and subsequent removal of ferric iron (Fe3+) by a crossflow microfiltration (membrane) process have been investigated as functions of wastewater flowrate (54-672 cm3 h-1), Fe2+ concentration (1.01-8.06 gam-3), and pH (1.5-5.0). A natural (vegetable) sponge, Luffa cylindrical, was used as support matrix material. The fastest kinetic performance achieved was about 40 g Fe2+ dm-3 h-1 at a true dilution rate of 19 h-1 corresponding to a hydraulic retention time of 3.16 min. Steady state conversion was observed to be about 10% higher at pH 2.3 than that at pH 1.5. Increasing the flowrate of the inlet wastewater caused a reduction in conversion rate. The oxidation rate reduced along the reactor height as the wastewater moved towards the exit at the top but conversion showed the opposite trend. Increasing Fe2+ concentration up to a critical point resulted in an increased oxidation rate but beyond the critical point caused the oxidation rate to decrease. Luffa cylindrica displayed suitable characteristics for use as a support matrix for formation of a Thiobacillus ferrooxidans biofilm and showed promising potential as an ecological and sustainable alternative to existing synthetic support materials. Membrane separation was shown to be a very effective means of Fe3+ removal from the wastewater with removal changing from 92% at pH 2.3 to complete removal at pH 5.0. © 2003 Society of Chemical Industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-780
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2003


  • Bioxidation
  • Ferrous iron removal
  • Membrane bioreactor
  • Process intensification
  • Thiobacillus ferrooxidans
  • Wastewater treatment


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