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Two-stage biotransformation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene under nitrogen-rich and nitrogen-limiting conditions

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An anaerobic fluidized-bed granular activated carbon bioreactor in series with an activated-sludge reactor was used to treat a wastewater containing 100 mg/L 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). The performance of the system was evaluated under both nitrogen-rich and nitrogen-limiting conditions. When 18 mg/L ammonia-nitrogen was supplied to the system, the mixed anaerobic culture completely transformed the TNT to unknown products. Effluent ammonia-nitrogen routinely was more than 21 mg/L, and nitrite was also detected in the anaerobic reactor effluent, possibly indicating two distinct methods of nitrogen removal from the ring. The effluent from this reactor was treated further in an activated-sludge system. A significant fraction of the TNT transformation products was oxidized in the aerobic stage, resulting in recovery of 82% of influent TNT-nitrogen and at least 73% TNT-carbon mineralization in the system. When the anaerobic reactor received only TNT as a nitrogen source, anaerobic reactor effluent ammonia levels remained above 3 mg/L, but nitrite was not detected. The resulting TNT biotransformation products could not be completely identified, but they did persist in the final effluent. The inability of the activated sludge to effect further transformation of some of these compounds was quantified as a substantial reduction in inorganic nitrogen recovery. Only 55% of influent TNT-nitrogen was recovered in the system during the nitrogen-limited operation.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1998-03-01

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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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