The primary objective of this research project is to develop and optimize a resilient treatment train for munitions constituent manufacturing waste (MCMW) that consists of a membrane bioreactor (MBR) to remove a majority of the key components of the diverse process streams, followed by a secondary process (e.g., electrocatalytic or UV-peroxide) for removing intermediates, color, and remaining chemical oxygen demand (COD) in the MBR effluent. Multiple processes will be evaluated for the polishing treatment based upon the observed residuals from the MBR system under optimized conditions. The overall goal is to develop a flexible, cost-effective approach that can be used at explosives manufacturing and processing facilities to effectively treat complex wastestreams that may vary significantly in composition, and include both insensitive high explosives (insensitive high explosives [IHE]; e.g., NG, 2,4-dinitroanisole [DNAN], 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5- one [NTO]) and legacy explosives (e.g., RDX, HMX, TNT) as well as oxidants such as perchlorate (ClO4-) and explosive synthesis residuals like nitrate (NO3-).


Dual Anaerobic-Aerobic Membrane Bioreactor System

Technical Approach

The technical approach consists of (1) laboratory experiments to evaluate and optimize the MBR technology using simulated MCMW mixtures; (2) evaluation of residuals, and effective secondary technologies to treat these residuals in the MBR effluent; (3) improving our understanding of the complex MBR microbiology using state-of-the art molecular techniques; (4) testing of the combined system for treatment of actual MCMW waste; and (5) cost analysis for full-scale application.


The results from this project will provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with an MBR system capable of treating current and future MCMW and other energetics wastes. This technology is anticipated to be applicable throughout the energetics lifecycle and to be capable of effectively treating complex wastestreams that include IHE and traditional explosives as well as other residuals. The MBR capability will enhance DoD modernization efforts for munitions from manufacture to demilitarization. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2023). 


Fuller, M.E., P.C. Hedman, K-H. Chu, T.S. Webster, and P.B. Hatzinger. 2023. Evaluation of a Sequential Anaerobic-Aerobic Membrane Bioreactor System for Treatment of Traditional and Insensitive Munitions Constituents. Chemosphere, 340:139887. doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2023.139887.

Fuller, M.E., R. Rezes, P.C. Hedman, J. Jones, N.C. Sturchio, and P.B. Hatzinger. 2021. Reductive Biotransformation of the Insensitive Munition Constituents 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazon-5-one (NTO) and 2,4-dintroanisole (DNAN) by Aerobic Methane-Oxidizing Bacterial Consortia and Pure Cultures. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 407:124321. doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.124341.

Kim, J., M.E. Fuller, P.B. Hatzinger, and K-H. Chu. 2023. Draft Genomes of Three Nitroguanidine-Degrading Bacteria: Pseudomonas Extremaustralis NQ5, Arthrobacter Strain NQ4, and Arthrobacter Strain NQ7. American Society of Microbiology, 12(9):e00467-23. doi.org/10.1128/MRA.00467-23.