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Enzyme-Catalyzed Removal of Phenol from Refinery Wastewater: Feasibility Studies

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Phenols are present in petroleum refining wastewater. An enzymatic method for removing phenols from industrial aqueous effluent has been developed in the past several years. In this method, a peroxidase enzyme catalyzes the oxidation of phenol by hydrogen peroxide generation of phenoxyl radicals. These radicals diffuse from the active center of the enzyme into solution and react nonenzymatically to eventually form higher oligomers and polymers, which can be removed from wastewater by conventional coagulation and sedimentation or filtration.

In this study, Arthromyces ramosus peroxidase (ARP) was applied to treat a petroleum refining wastewater containing 2 mM (188 mg/L) phenol in a batch and continuous-flow system. The latter consisted of a plug-flow reactor (PFR) where the reaction took place between phenol and hydrogen peroxide catalyzed by the enzyme in the presence of polyethylene glycol (PEG). A flocculation tank followed the PFR where alum and sodium hydroxide were added and then the polymers formed were settled in a sedimentation tank and removed from the system. Most (95 to 99%) of the phenol was removed by the same dose of ARP required for the treatment of synthetic wastewater containing an equal amount of phenol. Polyethylene glycol, as an additive, reduced enzyme inactivation and consequently reduced the enzyme dose and the cost of the treatment process. Step feeding of hydrogen peroxide was not effective in reducing the enzyme requirement. A significant removal of chemical oxygen demand was achieved when using PEG to reduce the enzyme dose.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-03-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    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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