Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 86, Issue 6, pp 1977–1985 | Cite as

Integrated photocatalytic-biological reactor for accelerated phenol mineralization

  • Yongming Zhang
  • Lei Wang
  • Bruce E. Rittmann
Environmental Biotechnology


An integrated photocatalytic-biological reactor (IPBR) was developed for accelerated phenol degradation and mineralization. In the IPBR, photodegradation and biodegradation occurred simultaneously, but in two separated zones: a piece of mat-glass plate coated with TiO2 film and illuminated by UV light was connected by internal circulation to a honeycomb ceramic that was the biofilm carrier for biodegradation. This arrangement was designed to give intimate coupling of photocatalysis and biodegradation. Phenol degradation was investigated by following three protocols: photocatlysis with TiO2 film under ultraviolet light, but no biofilm (photodegradation); biofilm biodegradation with no UV light (biodegradation); and simultaneous photodegradation and biodegradation (intimately coupled photobiodegradation). Photodegradation alone could partly degrade phenol, but was not able to achieve significant mineralization, even with an HRT of 10 h. Biodegradation alone could completely degrade phenol, but it did not mineralize the COD by more than 74%. Photobiodegradation allowed continuous rapid degradation of phenol, but it also led to more complete mineralization of phenol (up to 92%) than the other protocols. The results demonstrate that intimate coupling was achieved by protecting the biofilm from UV and free-radical inhibition. With phenol as the target compound, the main advantage of intimate coupling in the IPBR was increased mineralization, presumably because photocatalysis made soluble microbial products more rapidly biodegradable.


Biofilm Photocatalysis Bioreactor Wastewater treatment Phenol 



The authors acknowledge the financial support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (50678102), the Special Foundation of Chinese Colleges and Universities Doctoral Discipline (20070270003), the Shanghai Leading Academic Discipline Project (S30406), the Leading Academic Discipline Project of Shanghai Normal University (DZL711), and the US National Science Foundation (0651794). Precious Biyela provided valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Engineering, College of Life and Environmental ScienceShanghai Normal UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Center for Environmental Biotechnology, Biodesign InstituteArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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