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Degradation of BTEX compounds in liquid media and in peat biofilters

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Journal of Industrial Microbiology


A mixed culture, enriched from Sphagnum peat moss, contaminated with gasoline vapours, degraded individual and mixed components of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene). Complete degradation of radiolabelled toluene by the mixed culture was observed in mineralisation studies. Individual isolates from a mixed culture containingPseudomonas maltophilia, P. testosteroni andP. putida biotype A exhibited contrasting BTEX degradation patterns. WhileP. putida biotype A degraded all of the BTEX compounds,P. maltophilia andP. testosteroni, appeared unable to degrade benzene and xylenes, respectively. When the peat, inoculated with the mixed culture, was used as a biofilter (6.2 cm diameter ×93 cm length) for degradation of toluene and ethylbenzene vapours, percentage removal efficiencies were 99 and 85, respectively. When the capacity of the biofilter to degrade a combination of BTEX compounds was evaluated, percentage removal efficiencies for toluene, ethylbenzene,p-xylene,o-xylene and benzene were 99, 85, 82, 80 and 78, respectively. The importance of using the mixed culture as an inoculum in the biofilter was established and also the relationship between contaminated vapour flow rate and percentage removal efficiency.

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Mallakin, A., Ward, O.P. Degradation of BTEX compounds in liquid media and in peat biofilters. Journal of Industrial Microbiology 16, 309–318 (1996).

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