During petrochemical production of purified terephthalic acid (PTA, 1,4-benzene dicarboxylic acid), a large quantity of concentrated effluent is produced. Main polluting compounds in this wastewater are terephthalic acid, acetic acid and benzoic acid in decreasing order of concentration. Acetic acid and benzoic acid are known to be rapidly degraded in high rate anaerobic treatment systems, such as Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (UASB) reactors. Concerning the kinetics of anaerobic mineralization of terephthalic acid, however, no information is available in literuature. Therefore our work focused on the anaerobic degradation of neutralized terephthalic acid (disodium terephthalate) in laboratory scale UASB-reactors and batch reactors. It was found that high rate anaerobic treatment of terephthalate was difficult to obtain due to the low growth rate (μ ≈ 0.04 day−1) of the terephthalate mineralizing mixed culture. The maximum removal capacity of a lab-scale UASB-reactor was found to be 3.9 g COD.1−1 .day−1 at a loading rate of 4.5 g COD.1−1 .day−1 and a hydraulic retention time of 24 hours. Terephthalate was used as sole carbon source during these experiments. Addition of small amounts of sucrose (co-substrate) to the influent, as a source of reducing equivalents, was found to have a negative influence on the anaerobic degradation of terephthalate. Also benzoate was found to inhibit the mineralization of terephthalate. Batch-toxicity experiments showed that terephthalate is not toxic to any of the species involved in its mineralization. Based on these observations, a staged anaerobic reactor system is suggested for the anaerobic pre-treatment of PTA-wastewater.

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