An integrated reactor system has been developed to remediate pentachlorophenol (PCP) containing wastes using sequential anaerobic and aerobic biodegradation. Anaerobically, PCP was degraded to predominately equimolar concentrations (>99%) of monochlorophenol (MCP) in two GAC fluidized bed reactors at Empty Bed Contact Times (EBCTs) ranging from 18.6 to 1.15 hours. However, at lower EBCTs, MCP concentrations decreased to less than 10% of the influent PCP concentration suggesting mineralization. The optimal EBCT was determined to be 2.3 hours based on PCP conversion to MCPs and stable reactor operation. Decreasing the EBCT fourfold did not inhibit degradation of PCP and its intermediates, thus allowing removal of PCP at much lower detention time and resulting in a significant cost advantage.

Analytical grade PCP was fed via syringe pumps into two fluidized bed reactors at influent concentrations of 100 mg/l and 200 mg/l, respectively. Acting as the primary substrate, ethanol was also fed into the reactors at concentrations of 697 and 1388 mg/l. Effluent PCP and chlorinated phenolic compounds were analyzed weekly to evaluate reactor performance. Biodegradation pathways were also identified. 3-chlorophenol (CP) was the predominant MCP and varied simultaneously with 3,5-dichlorophenol (DCP) concentrations. Likewise, 4-CP concentrations varied simultaneously with 3,4-DCP concentrations.

A second stage aerobic GAC fluidized bed reactor was added after the anaerobic reactor to completely mineralize the remaining MCP and phenols. Data show no presence of phenol and MCP in the effluent or on the GAC. Overall, the chemical oxygen demand (COD) fed to the system was reduced from 75 g/d in the influent to less than 1.5 g/d in the effluent.

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