Transport Processes within a Hollow Fiber Membrane Reactor: Mass Transfer and Hydrodynamics
Hollow fiber membrane reactors (HFMBRs) may be used for biological wastewater treatment, and may be integrated with NASA's current research developments. The goal of this paper is to (a) evaluate the effect of mass transfer and hydrodynamics in a microporous HFMBR and (b) appropriateness of HFMBRs for use in space applications. Even though bubble-less aeration was not achieved by the use of microporous membranes, mass transfer within the HFMBR was found to increase after biofilm formation. Conversely, convective flow dominated transport within the system. Despite the high treatment efficiency obtained by the HFMBR, due to the bioreactor size, configuration and membrane spacing within the HFMBR, the bioreactor was not a suitable option for application under microgravity conditions. Even though developing a system with more favorable system hydrodynamics would aid in treatment efficiency, the use of a microporous HFMBR is not a recommended option to meet NASA's needs.