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Biodegradation of two polyethoxylated nonionic surfactants in sequencing batch reactors

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Application of surfactants to increase the mobility of hydrophobic contaminants in soils will create a secondary aqueous waste stream containing mobilized contaminant and surfactant that may be biodegraded. Previous research on surfactant biodegradation focused on low surfactant concentrations, typically less than 0.01% (weight/weight). The goal of this project was to investigate the effect of surfactant concentration, greater than 0.01%, on the rate and extent of surfactant biodegradation.

Two nonionic polyethoxylated surfactants, Neodol 91-8 and Makon 12, were selected for study based on their ability to solubilize hydrophobic organic compounds. Investigations were conducted in bench-scale sequencing batch reactors at initial surfactant concentrations of 0.01, 0.025, and 0.05%. The surfactants served as the sole carbon source.

The average residual nondegradable fractions of surfactant were 0.35 and 0.15 for Makon 12 and Neodol 91-8, respectively. Although the extent of degradation did not change with initial surfactant concentration, the residual concentration did increase with initial surfactant concentration. Organic carbon removal was best fit by a modified first-order model. The first-order rate constant seemed to decrease exponentially with increasing initial surfactant concentration.
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Keywords: BIODEGRADATION; KINETICS; SEQUENCING BATCH REACTORS; SURFACTANTS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1997-11-01

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    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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