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Effect of Chloroform on Aerobic Biodegradation of Organic Solvents in Pharmaceutical Wastewater

Authors: Balasubramanian P, Ligy Philip, S. Murty Bhallamudi


In this study, cometabolic biodegradation of chloroform was experimented with mixed cultures in the presence of various organic solvents like methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, acetone, acetonitrile and toluene as these are predominant discharges in pharmaceutical industries. Toluene and acetone showed higher specific chloroform degradation rate when compared to other compounds. Cometabolic degradation of chloroform was further confirmed by observation of free chloride ions in the medium. An extended Haldane model, incorporating the inhibition due to chloroform and the competitive inhibition between primary substrates, was developed to predict the biodegradation of primary substrates, cometabolic degradation of chloroform and the biomass growth. The proposed model is based on the use of biokinetic parameters obtained from single substrate degradation studies. The model was able to satisfactorily predict the experimental results of ternary and quaternary mixtures. The proposed model can be used for predicting the performance of bioreactors treating discharges from pharmaceutical industries.

Keywords: Chloroform, Cometabolic biodegradation, Competitive inhibition, Extended Haldane model, Pharmaceuticalindustry.

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