Continuous aerobic biodegradation of phenol in synthetic wastewater with phenol at different concentrations (200, 300, 500, 800 and 900 ppm) was carried out in a pulsed plate column, which is used as a bioreactor with immobilised cells of Nocardia hydrocarbonoxydans (NCIM 2386) at a dilution rate of 0.4094 h−1 and amplitude of 4.7 cm at various frequencies of pulsation (0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1 s−1). The effect of frequency of pulsation on the steady state performance of the bioreactor for phenol biodegradation at different influent concentrations was studied. Percentage degradations were observed to be a combined effect of volumetric phenol loading, reactor residence time, mass transfer limitations and phenol inhibition effect. At 500 ppm influent phenol concentration the effect of frequencies of pulsation on the steady state percentage degradation at different amplitudes was studied. The percentage degradation increased with increase in frequency and almost 100% degradation was achieved at 0.75 s−1, 0.5 s−1 or 0.25 s−1, with 3.3, 4.7 or 6.0 cm amplitudes respectively and hence the vibrational velocity (amplitude*frequency) was found to influence the steady state performance of the reactor. It was found that optimum vibrational velocities need to be fixed for maximum removal efficiency of the bioreactor depending on the influent phenol concentration.

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