A Study of the Patterns, Stoichiometry, and Kinetics of Microbial BTX Degradation Under Denitrifying Conditions by an Activated Sludge Consortium Receiving a Mixed Waste
The patterns, stoichiometry, and kinetics of microbial benzene, toluene, p-xylene, m-xylene, and o-xylene degradation by a denitrifying activated sludge consortium was investigated in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) receiving a mixed waste. After six months of acclimation, toluene and m-xylene were routinely degraded to below detection. Both toluene and m-xylene could serve as sole carbon and energy sources. The removal of o-xylene was also possible; however, its transformation was dependent upon gratuitous metabolism during toluene degradation. Benzene and p-xylene were recalcitrant throughout the study. The first order decay coefficient (b) of the denitrifying biomass was determined to be 0.016 ± 0.006 h-1 on a theoretical oxygen demand (thOD) basis. The true growth yields (Y) for the biogenic and toluene/m-xylene components of the mixed waste were determined to be 0.41 ± 0.02 and 0.35 ± 0.04 mg thOD biomass per mg thOD substrate, respectively. The Monod parameters, qmax and KS, for toluene ranged from 0.059 to 0.14 mg toluene/mg protein/h and 0.84 to 6.9 mg/L, respectively. For m-xylene, the qmax and KS parameters ranged from 0.034 to 0.041 mg m-xylene/mg protein/h and 0.28 to 3.7 mg/L, respectively. Some of the variation observed between kinetic experiments was attributed to the different accumulation levels of the denitrification intermediate nitrite (NO2-) and the inhibitory effects of its conjugate acid, nitrous acid (HNO2). Other evidence suggested that part of the variation was also due to a continuous acclimation and refinement towards higher affinity toluene- and m-xylene-degrading enzyme systems within the biomass.