The anaerobic degradation of terephthalic acid (TA) as the sole organic carbon source was studied in an upflow anaerobic filter (UAF) reactor. The reactor was seeded with biomass obtained from a full-scale upflow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactor and was used to treat wastewater from a petrochemical facility producing dimethyl terephthalate. The UAF reactor was operated for 252 d with a constant hydraulic retention time of 24 h, and the organic loading rate (OLR) was gradually increased from 1 to 10 g-chemical oxygen demand (COD)/L d. After a lag period of approximately 40 d, the COD removal efficiency increased exponentially and high removal rate values (≈90%) were obtained, except for at highest OLR (10 g-COD/L d). The high removal rates and the robustness of the reactor performance could be attributed to the formation of biofilm as well as granular sludge. The methane production rates (0.22 to 2.15 L/d) correlated well with the removed OLRs (0.3 to 6.8 g-COD/L d) during the various phases of treatment, indicating that the main mechanism of TA degradation occurs via methanogenic reactions. The average methane content of the produced biogas was 70.3%. The modified Stover–Kincannon model was found to be applicable for the anaerobic degradation of TA in UAFs (Umax = 64.5, KB = 69.1 g-COD/L d and Ymax = 0.27 L-CH4/g-CODremoved). These results suggest that UAF reactors are among the most effective reactor configurations for the anaerobic degradation of TA.

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