Integrated electro-coagulation and gravity driven ceramic membrane bioreactor for roofing rainwater purification: Flux improvement and extreme operating case

Xing Du, Rong Ma, Mengyao Xiao, Wei Song, Yingshi Tan, Zhihong Wang, Alex Hay-Man Ng, Wenxiang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The collected roofing rainwater with high water quality and large water volume, can alleviate the crisis of water resources and fit the Low-Impact Development (LID) concept. In this work, a novel water purification technology, Electro-Coagulation coupled with Gravity-Driven Ceramic Membrane Bio-Reactor (EC-GDCMBR) was developed for the roofing rainwater purification under long-term operation (136 days). EC-GDCMBR system not only exhibited the better effluent quality, but also obtained the greater flux (~32 LMH). The reason contributed to the high permeability of ceramic membrane and large porosity of biofilm formed by floc growth (~36 μm) during the EC process, which was also proved by SEM image. The coagulation, adsorption, biodegradation, and coprecipitation of EC-GDCMBR was able to synergistically remove the particulate matter, ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), Total Phosphorus (TP), organic substances, and heavy metal (i.e., Cr, Zn, and Cu). In particular, via the analysis of bacterial abundance, Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS), Assimilable Organic Carbon (AOC), Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) and Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM), EC could sweep most free bacteria on the ceramic membrane surface, enhancing the biological purification efficiency. Furthermore, a large amount of Pseudomonas (12.4 %-66.7 %) and Nitrospira (1.46 %-3.16 %) in the aggregates formed the biofilms, improved the NH3-N removal. During the long-term operation, there are some unavoidable problems, such as the thick and ripened biofilm of EC-GDCMBR would crack and fall off. Based on this, the current work also studied the reliability of GDCMBR under "extreme operating case", and the results showed that neither the biofilm detachment nor the biofilm breakup had a significant impact on the effluent quality. Overall, the findings of this study suggest the reliability of EC-GDCMBR for the sustainable operation of roofing rainwater purification and improve the application value of decentralized rainwater harvest device.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158197
JournalThe Science of the total environment
StatePublished - Aug 20 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-09-14
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Program for Guangdong Introducing Innovative and Entrepreneurial Teams (2019ZT08L213), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (52170070, 51908136 and 22178136), and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China (2021A1515012275).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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