Removal and fate of micropollutants in a sponge-based moving bed bioreactor

Yunlong Luo, Wenshan Guo*, Huu Hao Ngo, Long Duc Nghiem, Faisal Ibney Hai, Jinguo Kang, Siqing Xia, Zhiqiang Zhang, William Evan Price

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the removal of micropollutants using polyurethane sponge as attached-growth carrier. Batch experiments demonstrated that micropollutants could adsorb to non-acclimatized sponge cubes to varying extents. Acclimatized sponge showed significantly enhanced removal of some less hydrophobic compounds (log D < 2.5), such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, and estriol, as compared with non-acclimatized sponge. The results for bench-scale sponge-based moving bed bioreactor (MBBR) system elucidated compound-specific variation in removal, ranging from 25.9% (carbamazepine) to 96.8% (β-Estradiol 17-acetate) on average. In the MBBR system, biodegradation served as a major removal pathway for most compounds. However, sorption to sludge phase was also a notable removal mechanism of some persistent micropollutants. Particularly, carbamazepine, ketoprofen and pentachlorophenol were found at high concentrations (7.87, 6.05 and 5.55 μg/g, respectively) on suspended biosolids. As a whole, the effectiveness of MBBR for micropollutant removal was comparable with those of activated sludge processes and MBRs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-319
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Early online date5 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Micropollutants removal
  • Moving bed bioreactor (MBBR)
  • Sponge
  • Attached-growth
  • Biodegradation


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