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Applicability of Microaerobic Technology to Enhance BTEX Removal from Contaminated Waters

Firmino, PauloIgor M., Farias, RaquelS., Barros, AmandaN., Landim, PatríciaG. C., Holanda, GervinaB. M., Rodríguez, Elisa, Lopes, AlexandreC., dos Santos, AndréB.
Applied biochemistry and biotechnology 2018 v.184 no.4 pp. 1187-1199
BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), air, anaerobic conditions, bacterial communities, benzene, bioreactors, ethanol, ethylbenzene, microorganisms, oxygen, toluene, water pollution, xylene
As the addition of low concentrations of oxygen can favor the initial degradation of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) compounds, this work verified the applicability of the microaerobic technology to enhance BTEX removal in an anaerobic bioreactor supplemented with high and low co-substrate (ethanol) concentrations. Additionally, structural alterations on the bioreactor microbiota were assessed throughout the experiment. The bioreactor was fed with a synthetic BTEX-contaminated water (~ 3 mg L⁻¹ of each compound) and operated at a hydraulic retention time of 48 h. The addition of low concentrations of oxygen (1.0 mL min⁻¹ of atmospheric air at 27 °C and 1 atm) assured high removal efficiencies (> 80%) for all compounds under microaerobic conditions. In fact, the applicability of this technology showed to be viable to enhance BTEX removal from contaminated waters, especially concerning benzene (with a 30% removal increase), which is a very recalcitrant compound under anaerobic conditions. However, high concentrations of ethanol adversely affected BTEX removal, especially benzene, under anaerobic and microaerobic conditions. Finally, although bacterial community richness decreased at low concentrations of ethanol, in general, the bioreactor microbiota could deal with the different operational conditions and preserved its functionality during the whole experiment.