Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Y. T. (Ed) Wang


The main objective of this study was to improve our understanding of biological filtration (biofilm type) treatment for manganese (Mn) removal in drinking water. Biological filtration treatment involves biofilms of Mn(II)-oxidizing microorganisms attached to solid filter material that remove and immobilize dissolved Mn(II) in raw water by conversion to black MnO2(s) precipitates. Mn-biological filtration is an emerging green technology that can serve as an alternative to conventional physicochemical treatments but its full potential is hindered by various factors. These include lack of understanding the: (1) optimal removal conditions for Mn, (2) mechanisms for Mn releases of the accumulated Mn in the biofilter, and (3) effects of recalcitrant natural organic matter (NOM) on biofiltration. Confounding these issues is the unknown identity of the diverse microbial communities which occupy the biofilms attached to the filter media.

To investigate these issues, biological Mn removal was studied in laboratory bench scale reactors using a new Mn(II)-oxidizing bacterium isolate, Pseudomonas Putida EC112. The main research hypothesis formulated that the transition metal catalyst, MnO2(s), can increase the bioavailable carbon and energy from recalcitrant NOM (e.g., humic acids (HA)) to biological filters. Mn and HA can be found in most natural waters, including groundwaters, lakes and streams. To test the hypothesis, the potential for strain EC112 growth and Mn(II) oxidation utilizing the organic substrate products from the oxidation reaction between HA and MnO2(s) was assessed.

Biological Mn(II)-oxidation kinetics were investigated in batch (suspended cell) and continuous flow (biofilm) bioreactors at optimal pH and temperature conditions for strain EC112. Batch kinetics was successfully characterized with the Monod model. Continuous flow steady-state kinetics was modeled with a single, zero-order kinetic parameter.

Enhanced Mn(II) removal capacity was observed for strain EC112 in batch and continuous flow reactors in the presence of HA and MnO2. The effect of MnO2(s) on HA biodegradability was studied and optimal conditions for biodegradation were identified.

Biofilter Mn(II) releases were observed during the continuous flow bioreactor experiments. Release conditions were identified and releases modeled using pseudo first-order kinetics.

Changes in HA structure induced by MnO2(s) oxidation were studied with Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) and proton nuclear magnetic spectroscopy (1H-NMR).