Biofiltration and inhibitory interactions of gaseous benzene, toluene, xylene, and methyl tert-butyl ether

Eun Hwa Shim, Jaisoo Kim, Kyung Suk Cho, Hee Wook Ryu

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46 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the individual and combined removal capacities of benzene, toluene, and xylene (B, T, and X) in the presence and absence of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) in a polyurethane biofilter inoculated with a BTX-degrading microbial consortium, and further examined their interactive effects in various mixtures. In addition, Polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences were used to compare the microbial community structures found in biofilters exposed to the various gases and gas mixtures. The maximum individual elimination capacities (MECs) of B, T, and X were 200, 238, and 400 g m -3 h-1, respectively. There was no significant elimination of MTBE alone. Addition of MTBE decreased the MECs of B,T, and X to 75, 100, and 300 g m-3 h-1, respectively, indicating that benzene was most strongly inhibited by MTBE. When the three gases were mixed (B + T + X), the removal capacities of individual B, T, and X were 50, 90, and 200 g m-3 h-1, respectively. These capacities decreased to 40, 50, and 100 g m-3 h-1 when MTBE was added to the mix. The MEC of the three-gas mixture (B + T + X) was 340 g m-3 h -1, and that of the four-gas mixture was 200 g m-3 h -1. Although MTBE alone was not degraded by the biofilter, it could be co-metabolically degraded in the presence of toluene, benzene, or xylene with the MECs of 34, 23, and 14 g m-3 h-1, respectively. The microbial community structure analysis revealed that two large groups could be distinguished based on the presence or absence of MTBE, and many of the dominant bacteria in the consortia were closely related to bacteria isolated from aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated sites and/or oil wastewaters. These findings provide important new insights into biofiltration and may be used to improve the rational design of biofilters for remediation of petroleum gas-contaminated airstreams according to composition types of mixed gases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3089-3094
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2006


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