The variation of microbial activity during acclimation to 4-chlorophenol (4CP) in an aerobic automated sequencing batch reactor was studied. The results show a reduction in degradation time as the acclimation process occurred. During acclimation for an initial concentration of 50 mg 4CP/L, degradation time was reduced from 40 h to 50 min after 10 cycles. In the case of an initial concentration of 100 mg/L, degradation time was reduced from 52 h to 1.16 h, also after 10 cycles. Doubling the initial concentration of a previously acclimated sludge produces only a slight increase in degradation time. It was found that as acclimation took place, the affinity of the consortia to biodegrade the toxic increased, whereas the ability to biodegrade acetate decreased. The evolution of the substrate uptake rate over time during the acclimation period was highly correlated with an exponential relationship. It was also observed that acclimation decreased both the production of a toxic metabolite and the sludge volumetric index.

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