The aim of the present study was to investigate how phenol modifies, through cometabolism, the biodegrading capability of 3-chlorophenol (3-CP) in a sequencing batch reactor seeded with a mixed culture obtained from a domestic sewage treatment plant. Two laboratory-scale SBRs, one fed 3-CP only and the other fed 3-CP and phenol in the same concentration, were seeded with the partially acclimated biomass. The removal capability in both reactors was measured for progressive increases in the feed organic loading. Cometabolism enhanced biodegradation of 3-CP by reducing both the initial lag period and the time required for the complete removal. 700 mg/L 3-CP was demonstrated to be the highest concentration, which could be completely degraded during the active phase (fill plus react) either in the presence or absence of phenol as the growth substrate even though the lag period was shorter when phenol was present. The operating strategy required modification for the complete removal of 800 mg/L 3-CP. An increase in the phenol to 3-CP ratio did, however, improve 3-CP degradation rate.

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