, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 379–392

Removal of organic compounds by a biofilm supported on GAC: modelling of batch and column data

  • Cristina Quintelas
  • Bruna Silva
  • Hugo Figueiredo
  • Teresa Tavares
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10532-009-9308-5

Cite this article as:
Quintelas, C., Silva, B., Figueiredo, H. et al. Biodegradation (2010) 21: 379. doi:10.1007/s10532-009-9308-5


The performance of a biofilm of Arthrobacter viscosus supported on granular activated carbon on the retention of organic compounds was evaluated. The presence of functional groups on the cell wall surface of the biomass that may interact with the organic compounds was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, to assess the applicability of this system to the removal of those compounds. The batch assays showed that the removal percentage decreases with the increasing initial concentration. The removal of phenol ranged from 99.5 to 93.4%, the chlorophenol removal ranged from 99.3 to 61.6% and the o-cresol removal ranged from 98.7 to 73.5%, for initial concentrations between 100 and 1,700 mg/L. The batch data were described by Freundlich, Langmuir, Redlich–Peterson, Dubinin-Radushkevich, Sips and Toth model isotherms and the best fit for the retention of phenol and for the retention of o-cresol was obtained with the Sips model, while for chlorophenol, the best fit was obtained with the Freundlich model. The column tests showed that the retention performance followed the order: phenol > chlorophenol > o-cresol, and increased with the increasing initial organic compound concentration. Data from column runs were described by Adams–Bohart, Wolborska and Yoon and Nelson models with good fitting for all the models.


Arthrobacter viscosusBiodegradationBiosorptionHazardous compounds

List of symbols

Qe (mg/g)

Ratio between mass of compound sorbed by the biofilm and the mass of GAC, at the equilibrium

Qmax (mg/g)

Maximum mass of compound sorbed per mass of GAC

Ce (mg/L)

Concentration of compound in solution at equilibrium

b (L/mg)

Langmuir adsorption equilibrium constant


Capacity of adsorption


Intensity of adsorption

KR (L/g), aR (L/mg) and β

Redlich–Peterson constants. β varies between 0 and 1

KS (Lbsmg1−bs/g), aS (L/mg)bs and bS

Sips isotherm parameters

Kt (mg/g), at and t

Toth isotherm constants


Related to the mean free energy of sorption per gram of the sorbate as it is transferred to the surface of the solid from infinite distance in the solution


Temperature (K)


Universal gas constant


Kinetic constant (L/(mg·min) for the Adams–Bohart model


Saturation concentration (mg/L) for the Adams–Bohart model


Inlet compound concentration (mg/L)


Effluent compound concentrations (mg/L)


Compound concentration at the solid/liquid interface (mg/L)


Axial diffusion coefficient (cm2/min)


Is the migration rate (cm/min)


Kinetic coefficient of the external mass transfer (min−1)


External mass transfer coefficient with a negligible axial dispersion coefficient D


Rate constant (min−1)


Time required for 50% adsorbate breakthrough (min)


Breakthrough time (min)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Quintelas
    • 1
  • Bruna Silva
    • 1
  • Hugo Figueiredo
    • 1
  • Teresa Tavares
    • 1
  1. 1.IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre of Biological EngineeringUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal