Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

ISSN 2095-2201

ISSN 2095-221X(Online)

CN 10-1013/X

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Research articles
Recent advances in membrane bioreactor technology for wastewater treatment in China
Xia HUANG, Kang XIAO, Yuexiao SHEN
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 245-271.

Abstract   PDF (907KB)
Since the introduction of the membrane bioreactor (MBR) in China in the early 1990s, remarkable progress has been achieved on the research and application of this technology. China has now become one of the most active fields in the world in this regard. This review outlines the development of MBR-based processes in China and their performance of treating municipal and industrial wastewaters. Since membrane fouling is a critical operational problem with MBR processes, this paper also proposes updated understanding of fouling mechanisms and strategies of fouling control, which are mainly compiled from publications of Chinese researchers. As for the commercial application of MBR in the country, the latest statistics of large-scale MBR plants (>10000 m3·d−1) are provided, and the growth trend of total treatment capacity as well as its driving force is analyzed.
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A hybrid membrane process for simultaneous thickening and digestion of waste activated sludge
Zhiwei WANG, Qiaoying WANG, Zhichao WU, Xinhua WANG,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 272-279.

Abstract   PDF (297KB)
A hybrid membrane process for simultaneous sludge thickening and digestion (MSTD) was studied. During one cycle (15 d) of operation under a hydraulic retention time of 1 d, the concentration of mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) continuously increased from about 4 g·L−1 to 34 g·L−1, and the mixed liquor volatile suspended solids (MLVSS) increased from about 3 g·L−1 to over 22 g·L−1. About 42% of the MLVSS and 39% of the MLSS reduction were achieved. The thickening and digestion effects in the MSTD were further analyzed based on a mass balance analysis. Test results showed that biopolymers and cations of biomass were gradually released to the bulk solution during the process. It was also found that the capillary suction time, colloidal chemical oxygen demand, soluble microbial products, viscosity, and MLSS had significant positive correlations with the membrane fouling rate, whereas extracellular polymeric substances, polysaccharides, and proteins extracted from biomass had negative impacts on membrane fouling.
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Bioreduction of nitrate in groundwater using a pilot-scale hydrogen-based membrane biofilm reactor
Youneng TANG, Michal ZIV-EL, Chen ZHOU, Jung Hun SHIN, Chang Hoon AHN, Bruce E. RITTMANN, Kerry MEYER, Daniel CANDELARIA, David FRIESE, Ryan OVERSTREET, Rick SCOTT,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 280-285.

Abstract   PDF (225KB)
A long-term pilot-scale H2-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) was tested for removal of nitrate from actual groundwater. A key feature of this second-generation pilot MBfR is that it employed lower cost polyester hollow fibers and still achieved high loading rate. The steady-state maximum nitrate surface loading at which the effluent nitrate and nitrite concentrations were below the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) was at least 5.9 g·N·(m2·d)−1, which corresponds to a maximum volumetric loading of at least 7.7 kg·N·(m3·d) −1. The steady-state maximum nitrate surface area loading was higher than the highest nitrate surface loading reported in the first-generation MBfRs using composite fibers (2.6 g·N·(m2·d)−1). This work also evaluated the H2-utilization efficiency in MBfR. The measured H2 supply rate was only slightly higher than the stoichiometric H2-utilization rate. Thus, H2 utilization was controlled by diffusion and was close to 100% efficiency, as long as biofilm accumulated on the polyester-fiber surface and the fibers had no leaks.
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Biosorption of Cr(III) from aqueous solution by freeze-dried activated sludge: Equilibrium, kinetic and thermodynamic studies
Qian YAO, Hua ZHANG, Jun WU, Liming SHAO, Pinjing HE,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 286-294.

Abstract   PDF (250KB)
Batch biosorption experiments were conducted to remove Cr(III) from aqueous solutions using activated sludge from a sewage treatment plant. An investigation was conducted on the effects of the initial pH, contact time, temperature, and initial Cr(III) concentration in the biosorption process. The results revealed that the activated sludge exhibited the highest Cr(III) uptake capacity (120 mg·g−1) at 45°C, initial pH of 4, and initial Cr(III) concentration of 100 mg·L−1. The biosorption results obtained at various temperatures showed that the biosorption pattern accurately followed the Langmuir model. The calculated thermodynamic parameters, ΔGo (−0.8– −4.58 kJ·mol−1), ΔHo (15.6–44.4 kJ·mol−1), and ΔSo (0.06–0.15 kJ·mol−1·K−1) clearly indicated that the biosorption process was feasible, spontaneous, endothermic, and physical. The pseudo first-order and second-order kinetic models were adopted to describe the experimental data, which revealed that the Cr(III) biosorption process conformed to the second-order rate expression and the biosorption rate constants decreased with increasing Cr(III) concentration. The analysis of the values of biosorption activation energy (Ea = −7 kJ·mol−1) and the intra-particle diffusion model demonstrated that Cr(III) biosorption was film-diffusion-controlled.
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Spatial distribution of phosphorus forms in sediments with different distances to the estuary of the Dianchi Lake, China
Shaoyong LU, Xiangcan JIN, Fengchang WU, Jing SI, Jianning GUO,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 295-300.

Abstract   PDF (156KB)
Effects of human activity on the distribution of phosphorus (P) forms were investigated for the sediments and porewaters in Daqinghe Estuary of Dianchi Lake, China. The concentrations of total P (TP), inorganic-P (I-P), and organic-P (Org-P), and the ratio of iron-bound P (Fe-P)/calcium-bound P (Ca-P) in the sediments decreased with the increasing distance from the sampling site to the estuary. This is probably due to the flocculant materials, e.g., ferric and aluminous salts, usually being added in the wastewater treatment processes. The concentration of ammonia in the sediment porewaters significantly decreased with the increasing distance from the sampling site to the estuary. Both concentrations of total nitrogen and nitrogen in the sediment porewaters decreased to some content with the increasing distance from the sampling site to the estuary. However, the concentrations of nitrate, dissolved total P (DTP), and TP did not have strong relationship with the distances from the sampling sites to the estuary. Pollution load and water quantity also had an important influence on the concentrations of P in sediments and its interstitial water in estuary sedimentary area.
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Perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFASs) in surface and tap water around Lake Taihu in China
Yong QIU, He JING, Hanchang SHI,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 301-310.

Abstract   PDF (325KB)
Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are ubiquitously distributed in the environment mainly as perfluoro-carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFASs). In this paper, six PFCAs and two PFASs were quantified in surface and tap water samples from 12 sites around Lake Taihu near Shanghai City in East China. Predominant PFCs were perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), of which the concentration ranges were 6.8–206 and 1.2–45 ng·L−1, the geometric means were 35.3 and 9.4 ng·L−1, and the median (quartile range) values were 31.4 (34.4) and 10.4 (10.7) ng·L−1, respectively. Other PFCs were also detected but in much lower concentrations than PFOA. The sources of the PFCs were expected to be direct industrial discharges in the Lake Taihu area, and this area was also a possible source of PFCs contaminations in Shanghai district in the downstream. PFCs distributions were found different in the upstream, downstream and north part of Lake Taihu. Occurrences of PFCs in the tap water in Lake Taihu area indicated their exposure to the local people. A brief estimation of the environmental risks by PFCs implied no acute or immediate risks from PFCs to local human health, but chronic risks from PFOA in the tap water should be considered in the downstream regions.
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Solar photocatalytic decomposition of two azo dyes on multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs)/TiO 2 composites
Huilong WANG, Shuqin LIU, Hui WANG, Wenfeng JIANG,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 311-320.

Abstract   PDF (502KB)
Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs)/TiO2 composite photocatalysts with high photoactivity were prepared by sol-gel process and further characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR), and UV-vis absorption spectra. Compared to pure TiO2, the combination of MWCNTs with titania could cause a significant absorption shift toward the visible region. The photocatalytic performances of the MWCNTs/TiO2 composite catalysts were evaluated for the decomposition of Reactive light yellow K-6G (K-6G) and Mordant black 7 (MB 7) azo dyes solution under solar light irradiation. The results showed that the addition of MWCNTs enhanced the adsorption and photocatalytic activity of TiO2 for the degradation of azo dyes K-6G and MB 7. The effect of MWCNTs content, catalyst dosage, pH, and initial dye concentration were examined as operational parameters. The kinetics of photocatalytic degradation of two dyes was found to follow a pseudo-first-order rate law. The photocatalyst was used for seven cycles with photocatalytic degradation efficiency still higher than 98%. A plausible mechanism is also proposed and discussed on the basis of experimental results.
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Investigation of the effects of humic acid and H 2 O 2 on the photocatalytic degradation of atrazine assisted by microwave
Chao QIN, Shaogui YANG, Cheng SUN, Jia ZHOU, Manjun ZHAN, Rongjun WANG, Huanxing CAI,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 321-328.

Abstract   PDF (293KB)
A solution of atrazine in a TiO2 suspension, an endocrine disruptor in natural water, was tentatively treated by microwave-assisted photocatalytic technique. The effects of mannitol, oxygen, humic acid, and hydrogen dioxide on the photodegradation rate were explored. The results could be deduced as follows: the photocatalytic degradation of atrazine fits the pseudo-first-order kinetic well with k = 0.0328 s−1, and ·OH was identified as the dominant reactant. Photodegradation of atrazine was hindered in the presence of humic acid, and the retardation effect increased as the concentration of humic acid increased. H2O2 displayed a significant negative influence on atrazine photocatalysis efficiency. Based on intermediates identified with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) techniques, the main degradation routes of atrazine are proposed.
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Impact of solids on biphasic biodegradation of phenanthrene in the presence of hydroxypropyl- β -cyclodextrin (HPCD)
Zhenyi ZHANG, Chihiro INOUE, Guanghe LI,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 329-333.

Abstract   PDF (155KB)
The consequence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the environment is of great concern. The hydrophobic properties of PAHs significantly impact phase distribution causing limited bioavailability. Enhanced biodegradation has been extensively carried out by surfactants and the redeployment effect was recognized. However, the quantitative relationship concerning the impact of solids was rarely reported. A batch of biphasic tests were carried out by introducing Mycobacterium vanbaalenii PYR-1 and hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPCD) into a mixture of phenanthrene solution and various glass beads (GB37-63, GB105-125, and GB350-500). The comparative results demonstrated that HPCD had little effect on microbial growth and was not degradable by bacterium. A model was proposed to describe the biodegradation process. The regression results indicated that the partition coefficient kd (1.234, 0.726 and 0.448 L·g−1) and the degradation rate k (0 mmol·L−1: 0.055, 0.094, and 0.112; 20 mmol·L−1: 0.126, 0.141, and 0.156; 40 mmol·L−1: 0.141, 0.156 and 0.184 d−1) were positively and negatively correlated with the calculated total surface area (TSA) of solids, respectively. Degradation enhanced in the presence of HPCD, and the enhancing factor f was calculated (20 mmol·L−1: 15.16, 40.01, and 145.5; 40 mmol·L−1: 13.29, 37.97, and 138.4), indicating that the impact of solids was significant for the enhancement of biodegradation.
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Treatment of soybean wastewater by a wild strain Rhodobacter sphaeroides and to produce protein under natural conditions
Junguo HE, Guangming ZHANG, Haifeng LU,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 334-339.

Abstract   PDF (157KB)
The conventional treatment method of soybean wastewater is expensive and generates waste sludge that requires further handling. Purple nonsulfur bacteria (PNSB) wastewater treatment is a clean technology and can generate single cell protein while degrading pollutants. A wild strain of PNSB, Rhodobacter sphaeroides Z08, was isolated from local soil and was used to treat soybean wastewater. To develop a cost-effective process, the work was performed under natural conditions without artificial light, aeration, nutrients addition, or pH and temperature adjustment. The results showed that the wild strain Rhodobacter sphaeroides Z08 could grow well under natural conditions. The growth curve showed two quick-growth periods and a turning point. The Z08 treatment of soybean wastewater was zero order reaction and COD reduction was 96% after 10 d. The major byproducts of the process were C2-C5 organic acids, predominantly butyric acid. No alcohol was found in the effluent. The initial COD/bacterial-mass ratio (F/M) had a significant effect on soybean wastewater treatment efficiency. When the initial F/M was lower than 10 mg-COD/mg-bacteria, a sufficient amount of time to achieve 90% of COD reduction was only three days. The Z08 biomass yield was 0.28g·g−1, and the bacterial protein content was 52%.
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Observation of bioturbation and hyporheic flux in streambeds
Jinxi SONG, Xunhong CHEN, Cheng CHENG,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 340-348.

Abstract   PDF (711KB)
In the Elkhorn River, burrows, tubes, and sediment mounds created by invertebrate bioturbation were observed in the exposed streambed and commonly concentrated on the fine-sediment patches, which consist of silt, clay, and organic matter. These invertebrate activities could loosen the thin layer of clogging sediments and result in an increase of pore size in the sediments, leading to greater vertical hydraulic conductivity of the streambed (Kv). The measurements of the vertical hydraulic gradient across the submerged streambed show that vertical flux in the hyporheic zone can alter directions (upward versus downward) for two locations only a few meters apart. In situ permeameter tests show that streambed Kv in the upper sediment layer is much higher than that in the lower sediment layer, and the calculated Kv in the submerged streambed is consistently greater than that in the clogged sediments around the shorelines of the sand bars. Moreover, a phenomenon of gas bubble release at the water-sediment interface from the subsurface sediments was observed in the groundwater seepage zone where flow velocity is extremely small. The bursting of gas bubbles can potentially break the thin clogging layer of sediments and enhance the vertical hydraulic conductivity of the streambed.
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Range of ecological impact of highway construction in the Longitudinal Range-Gorge Region, China
Jie LIU, Fan CHEN, Haiqing GENG, Xinxin QIU, Binbin CAI,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 349-360.

Abstract   PDF (894KB)
The major features of different road sections were identified. Methods quantitatively determining the ecological impact of highway construction were discussed, and a demonstration was presented. The Dabao highway (from Dali to Baoshan) and the Sixiao highway (from Simao to Xiaomengyang) passing through the Longitudinal Range-Gorge Region were used as examples in this paper. For the normal road sections having no important species to protect, a method of ecosystem health assessment was introduced to calculate the overall range of the ecological impact of highway construction. For the road sections having plants or soils of interest, indexes were selected and the range of impact was determined using mathematical methods such as regression analysis and variance analysis. The range of impact on animal populations was also discussed in terms of the minimum living areas required by animal populations and the fragmentation caused by highway construction. The results indicate that the zones impacted by highway construction were composed of both regular and anomalous figures, the range of impacts for different landforms of the two sample highways were substantially different; highway construction had dramatic effects on roadside ecosystem health; the impact on soil factors of farmland was greater than 200 m, and the distance may exceed 1000 m when important large animals were considered.
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Public perception of environmental issues across socioeconomic characteristics: A survey study in Wujin, China
Jun BI, Yongliang ZHANG, Bing ZHANG,
Front.Environ.Sci.Eng.. 2010, 4 (3): 361-372.

Abstract   PDF (351KB)
In developing countries, there is controversy over the correct perception regarding environmental and developmental issues. Few studies have examined the perception of low-income nationals in regards to social and environmental issues. This paper looks at the relationship between socio-demographic factors and the groups’ perceived priority regarding environmental and social issues in Wujin County. The results indicated that most residents, specifically the young, government employed and the urban community consider environmental issues to be serious, especially in relation to air pollution and water pollution. Furthermore, many residents feel it is important to rank environmental problems that are related to other social and economic issues, and that environmental protection must be set as a priority in Wujin County. Compared to social issues, environmental concern was greater among the young, government employed, and the urban community, because of their higher education and affluence. In addition, 66.2% of residents consider environmental protection to be more important than economic development. Thus, environmental protection must be set as a high priority in Wujin County, in order to face the many social and environmental challenges inherent in development.
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13 articles