Aerobic cometabolism of chlorinated aliphatic solvents in biofilm reactors is a potential treatment technology for contaminated water and air streams. This research investigated cometabolism by pure and mixed cultures of methanotrophs and mixed cultures of phenol-degrading bacteria. Initial experiments with continuous-flow, packed-bed bioreactors proved unsuccessful; therefore, the major focus of the work was on sequencing biofilm reactors, which cycle between two modes of operation, degradation of chlorinated solvents and rejuvenation of the microbial population. Particular success was obtained with a mixed culture of phenol degraders in the treatment of chlorinated ethenes (e.g., trichloroethylene - TCE). Under the best operating conditions, 90% removal of TCE occurred at a 14-minute packed-bed hydraulic residence time. The bioreactors required only two, 1.5 h biomass rejuvenation periods per day to sustain this removal. Experiments with Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b were less successful because of the organism's slow growth rate, relatively poor ability to attach to surfaces, and its inability to successfully compete with other methanotrophs in the bioreactor environment. Overall, however, the research demonstrated the potential attractiveness of sequencing biofilm reactors in treating water contaminated with chlorinated solvents.

You do not currently have access to this content.