Effective removal of nitrate in water by continuous-flow electro-dialysis ion exchange membrane bioreactor (CF-EDIMB): Performance optimization and microbial analysis

Chemosphere. 2023 Nov:341:139880. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2023.139880. Epub 2023 Aug 22.


The use of nitrogen fertilizer has been causing nitrate pollution in groundwater, and there is an urgent need for efficient approach to remove nitrate from groundwater. In our job, a novel continuous-flow electrodialysis ion exchange membrane bioreactor system (CF-EDIMB) was set up to remove nitrate (NO3-) from water for the first time. Nitrate removal was positively dependent on water chamber HRT and voltage; voltage had significant effect on the water chamber effluent pH; acetate utilization efficiency was closely correlated with acetate dosage. The optimal conditions forecasted through response surface method (RSM) were given as follows: water chamber HRT was 20 h, biological chamber HRT was 24 h, voltage was 6.65 V and acetate dosage was 454.99 mg/L, dedicating to nitrate removal of 81.90% (83.70% in prediction), water chamber effluent pH of 7.10 (7.00 in prediction) and acetate utilization efficiency of 92.87% (96.51% in prediction). Meanwhile, microorganisms are crucial for nitrate removal, and the microbial community was not sensitive to the variation of acetate dosage. The microbial analysis results indicated that when CF-EDIMB system was operated for 20 d, the sulfate-reducing bacteria Sediminibacterium appeared in the biological chamber, and the effluent sulfate concentration of biological chamber was decreased. During the whole operation, Thauera was the dominant genus. Denitrifying functional genes nirS presented a better expression than the gene narG, and there was no accumulation of nitrite.

Keywords: Continuous-flow mode; Electrodialysis; Ion exchange; Microbial analysis; Nitrate; Performance optimization.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates
  • Bioreactors / microbiology
  • Denitrification*
  • Ion Exchange
  • Nitrates*
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Sulfates


  • Nitrates
  • Acetates
  • Sulfates