Cyanide is highly toxic to living organisms, particularly in inactivating the respiration system by tightly binding to terminal oxidase. To protect the environment and water bodies, wastewater containing cyanide must be treated before discharging into the environment. Biological treatment is a cost-effective and environmentally acceptable method for cyanide removal compared with the other techniques currently in use. Klebsiella oxytoca (K. oxytoca), isolated from cyanide-containing industrial wastewater, has been shown to be able to biodegrade cyanide to non-toxic end products. The technology of immobilized cells can be applied in biological treatment to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of biodegradation. In this study, potassium cyanide (KCN) was used as the target compound and both alginate (AL) and cellulose triacetate (CTA) techniques were applied for the preparation of immobilized cells. Results from this study show that KCN can be utilized as the sole nitrogen source by K. oxytoca. The free suspension systems reveal that the cell viability was highly affected by initial KCN concentration, pH, and temperature. Results show that immobilized cell systems could tolerate a higher level of KCN concentration and wider ranges of pH and temperature, especially in the system with CTA gel beads. Results show that a longer incubation period was required for KCN degradation using immobilized cells compared to the free suspended systems. This might be due to internal mass transfer limitations. Results also indicate that immobilized systems can support a higher biomass concentration. Complete KCN degradation was observed after the operation of four consecutive degradation experiments with the same batch of immobilized cells. This suggests that the activity of the immobilized cells can be maintained and KCN can be used as the nitrogen source throughout KCN degradation experiments. Results reveal that the application of immobilized cells of K. oxytoca is advantageous to the maintenance of KCN degradation efficiency. Thus, it is conceivable that the immobilized cells of K. oxytoca would be applicable to the treatment of cyanide-containing wastewaters.

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