In this study, the possibility to use acetate-fed aerobic granular sludge for the degradation of low chlorinated 4-mono-chlorophenol (4CP) and highly chlorinated 2,4,6-tri- chlorophenol (TCP) was investigated. A Granulated Sequencing Batch Reactor (GSBR) was used to carry out the experiments, with acetate as growth substrate. 4CP concentration in the influent ranged between 0 and 50 mg/l, while TCP concentration varied between 0 and 15 mg/l. Different operating conditions were applied in order to obtain the complete aerobic degradation of 4CP. For TCP degradation, anaerobic feeding and control of dissolved oxygen concentration in the bulk liquid were used to keep the granules core under anaerobic conditions due to diffusion limitations: the possibility to obtain TCP reductive dechlorination under aerated conditions was thus investigated. Differences in granules shape and size were observed with 4CP and TCP dosed in the influent, and the effects of such toxic compounds on acetate removal were evaluated.
Aerobic granules grown on acetate as carbon source proved to be an interesting solution for the degradation of 4CP, showing good resistance to high 4CP concentrations in the influent even if unacclimated. The presence of TCP did not irreversibly inhibit biomass activity, and complete TCP degradation was achieved after acclimation.