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Bioremediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-contaminated soils in a roller baffled bioreactor



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Contamination of soil with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) is a serious environmental issue because some PAHs are toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic. Bioremediation is a promising option to completely remove PAHs from the environment or convert them to less harmful compounds. One of the main challenges in bioremediation of PAHs in a conventional roller bioreactor is the limitation on mass transfer due to the strong hydrophobicity and low water solubility of these compounds. To address this challenge, a novel bead mill bioreactor (BMB) was developed by Riess et al. (2005) which demonstrated a significant improvement in the rates of mass transfer and biodegradation of PAHs. In this study, to further improve mass transfer rates, baffles have been installed in both the conventional and bead mill bioreactors. Mass transfer rates of 1000 mg L-1 suspended naphthalene, 2-methylnaphthalene and 1,5-dimethylnaphthalene, three model compounds of PAHs, have been investigated in four bioreactors: conventional (control), baffled, BMB and baffled bead mill bioreactors. The baffled bioreactor provided mass transfer coefficients (KLa) that were up to 7 times higher than those of the control bioreactor. Bioremediation of suspended naphthalene or 2-methylnaphthalene as a single substrate and their mixtures was studied using the bacterium Pseudomonas putida ATCC 17484. Both baffled and bead mill bioreactors provided maximum bioremediation rates that were 2 times higher than the control bioreactor. The maximum bioremediation rates of 2-methylnaphthalene were further increased in the presence of naphthalene by a factor of 1.5 to 2 compared to the single substrate. Another rate-limiting step for bioremediation of PAH-contaminated soil is the strong sorption between the contaminant and soil. To find out the effect of sorption on the bioavailability of naphthalene, the appropriate sorption isotherms for three types of soils (sand, silt and clay) have been determined. It was observed that the sorption capacity of soils for naphthalene was proportional to the organic carbon content of the soils. The mass transfer of soil-bound naphthalene from the artificially prepared contaminated soils with short contamination history to the aqueous phase was studied in both the control and bead mill bioreactors. It was observed that the mass transfer was unexpectedly fast due to the increased interfacial surface area of naphthalene particles and the weak sorption between naphthalene and soils. It was concluded that artificially, naphthalene contaminated soils would likely not be any more difficult to bioremediate than pure naphthalene particles.



soils, cometabolism, sorption, bioremediation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, roller baffled bioreactor, mass transfer



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Chemical Engineering


Chemical Engineering



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