The feasibility of biologically degrading methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) in the field is dependent on the ability to degrade MTBE and its by-products in the presence of other gasoline contaminants. This study investigates the aerobic biodegradation of MTBE and its degradation
by-product TBA (tert-butyl alcohol) together with BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) in batch and continuous feed conditions using a bacterial enrichment culture. A continuous flow stirred tank reactor with a biomass retention system (porous pot) was found to degrade both
MTBE and BTEX simultaneously to achieve 99.99% removal of the contaminants. Batch studies showed that the presence of BTEX only had an effect on the rate of MTBE degradation at the highest concentration, while BTEX significantly delayed the degradation of TBA at all concentrations.
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