Aerobic 4-nitrophenol degradation by microorganisms fixed in a continuously working aerated solid-bed reactor

P Ray, M Ait Oubelli, C Löser
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 1999, 51 (2): 284-90
Studies of microbial purification of a model waste water containing 4-nitrophenol were carried out in a continuously working aerobic solid-bed reactor. The main emphasis was on the dynamic behaviour of the system after a sudden change in cultivation conditions and on the steady state performance of the reactor as a function of the pollution load. A change from ammonium-free to ammonium-containing medium hardly influenced the nitrophenol degradation. The reactor responded differently to an increase in pollutant load, which was brought about by increasing either the 4-nitrophenol content or the flow of the waste water. Up to a load of 270 mg l-1 h-1 the pollutant was stably and almost completely degraded. At a higher load, only a partial 4-nitrophenol degradation took place. A mathematical model was derived to describe the processes that occurred in the reactor. By segregation into two compartments--the aqueous phase and the biofilm--account was taken of the fact that the pollutant is carried into the biofilm by diffusion and is degraded there. The observed relations between the pollutant load, the pollutant concentration in the outlet of the reactor and the reactor performance agreed with the simulated process behaviour. As the model simulation showed, the incomplete pollutant degradation at a higher reactor load was caused by oxygen limitation.

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