Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) is one of the major synthetic fibers commonly used in the mass production of clothing. The chemical synthesis of PAN is carried out by polymerization of the acrylonitrile (AN) monomers with co-monomers such as vinyl acetate, methyl acrylate and cyclohexyl acrylate. Using water quality analysis of the PAN wastewater, high concentration of organic nitrogen was found and the TKN/COD ratios achieved were 0.15Ð0.26, indicating the complicated biodegradation characteristics for the PAN wastewater. In order to enhance biodegradation of nitrogenous compounds in PAN wastewater, a combined three-stage process of thermophilic anaerobic/anoxic denitrification/aerobic nitrification fluidized bed reactors was employed. The results indicated that the concentration of effluent in the three-stage process of COD and organic nitrogen was 175 mg/L and 13 mg/L, respectively. Furthermore, molecular biotechnology was applied to study the microbial population in the thermophilic anaerobic fluidized bed reactor. From the results of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, the diversity of PAN-degrading bacteria would change in different volumetric loading. Furthermore, the bacteria communities in the thermophilic anaerobic fluidized bed reactor were also studied by fluorescence in situ hybridization and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Alpha and delta-Proteobacteria were dominant in the bacteria population, and some high G+C content bacteria and Clostridium could be characterized in this system.

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