Dilutions of a wastewater containing 410 mg/l phenolics (by 4-aminoantipyrine method) from a coal coking process were tested in anaerobic batch cultures to determine whether phenol degradation and subsequent methane production would occur. Phenol was degraded in cultures which contained < 30% (V/V) wastewater but no methane production could be attributed to the phenol degradation. Higher concentrations of the wastewater severely inhibited methane formation likely due to cyanide which was present in the wastewater at 8.3 mg/l. Exhaustive extraction at neutral pH with diethyl ether could not alleviate this inhibition, suggesting that it was not primarily due to non-polar organic compounds. Although the inclusion of 2500 mg/l activated carbon in the batch cultures improved the methanogenic fermentation, methane yields were still lower than expected for complete phenolic conversion.

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