The objective of this research was to assess the biological decolorization of the copper-phthalocyanine dye Reactive Blue 7 (RB7) under methanogenic conditions using a mixed, methanogenic culture in a repetitive dye addition batch assay. The initial rate of decolorization was 13.2 mg/L-d and 5.7 mg/L-d for the first and second dye addition, respectively. For an initial RB7 concentration of ca. 300 mg/L, the extent of decolorization remained constant (about 62%) for each repetitive RB7 addition and resulted in a residual color build up. Declining absorbance ratio values (A664/A620) with increasing incubation time confirmed that the observed color removal was due to transformation as opposed to adsorption on the biomass. Chemical decolorization assays using sodium dithionite as the reducing agent resulted in similar absorbance spectra to that obtained after biological decolorization. In addition, in both the chemical and biological decolorization assays, partial oxidation of the reduced dye solution upon exposure to air resulted in higher residual color, indicating that the reduction and decolorization of RB7 are partially reversible. These results also suggest that RB7 reduction and decolorization both chemically and biologically most likely followed a similar reduction mechanism.

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