Cometabolic degradation of TCE vapors in a foamed emulsion bioreactor.
Effective cometabolic biodegradation of trichloroethylene (TCE) vapors in a novel gas-phase bioreactor called the foamed emulsion bioreactor (FEBR) was demonstrated. Toluene vapors were used as the primary growth substrate for Burkholderia cepacia G4 which cometabolically biodegraded TCE. Batch operation of the reactor with respect to the liquid feed showed a drastic decrease of TCE and toluene removal over time, consistent with a loss of metabolic activity caused by the exposure to TCE metabolites. Sustained TCE removal could be achieved when continuous feeding of mineral medium was implemented, which supported cell growth and compensated for the deactivation of cells. The FEBR exhibited its highest TCE removal efficiencies (82-96%) and elimination capacities (up to 28 gTCE m(-3) h(-1)) when TCE and toluene vapors were fed sequentially to circumvent the competitive inhibition by toluene. The TCE elimination capacity was 2-1000 times higher than reported in other gas-phase biotreatment reports. During the experiments, 85-101% of the degraded TCE chlorine was recovered as chloride. Overall, the results suggestthatthe FEBR can be a very effective system to treat TCE vapors cometabolically.
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