Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 229–240 | Cite as

Benzene vapor treatment using a two-phase partitioning bioscrubber: an improved steady-state protocol to enhance long-term operation

  • David R. Nielsen
  • Kyla N. Sask
  • P. James McLellan
  • Andrew J. DaugulisEmail author
Original Papers


The performance and stability of a two-phase partitioning bioscrubber (TPPB) containing 33% (vol.) n-hexadecane as an immiscible phase was investigated during 30 days of continuous gaseous benzene treatment. Elimination capacities of 141 ± 12 g/m3 h were achieved by Achromobacter xylosoxidans Y234 while maintaining >99% removal throughout. A new steady-state operating strategy that limits excessive biomass production by directing substrate consumption to maintenance energy has eliminated the requirement for frequent exchange of liquid contents. Simplifying the operating protocols in this manner has dramatically reduced material costs and rendered the TPPB operational requirements as more comparable (in terms of frequency of required operator inputs) with other vapor-phase bioreactors. The practicality of the proposed simplification to the operating protocol was confirmed by demonstrating that intermediate metabolites were not accumulating in the TPPB, inorganic nutrient requirements were readily predictable, and that high culture viability could be sustained for prolonged cell retention times (30 days).


Bioscrubber Biofiltration Partitioning bioreactor Benzene 



The financial support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Queen’s University, in the form of research grants and a graduate scholarship, is gratefully acknowledged. Special thanks to the Analytical Services Unit at Queen’s University for their assistance with ICP-AES analysis.


  1. 1.
    Heslinga DC (1994) Biofiltration technology. VDI Berichte 1104:13–18Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Deziel E, Comeau Y, Villemur R (1999) Two-Liquid-Phase Bioreactors for Enhanced Degradation of Hydrophobic/Toxic Compounds. Biodegradation 10:219–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Malinowski J (2001) Two-phase partitioning bioreactors in fermentation technology. Biotechnol Adv 19:525–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Van Sonsbeek HM, Beeftink HH, Tramper J (1993) Two-liquid-phase bioreactors. Enzyme Microb Technol 15(9):722–729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Collins LD, Daugulis AJ (1999) Benzene/toluene/p-xylene degradation. Part I. Solvent selection and toluene degradation in a two-phase partitioning bioreactor. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 52:354–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cesario MT, Beverloo WA, Tramper J, Beeftink HH (1997) Enhancement of gas–liquid mass transfer rate of apolar pollutants in the biological waste gas treatment by a dispersed organic solvent. Enzyme Microb Technol 21:578–588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Yeom S-H, Daugulis AJ (2000) Development of a novel bioreactor for treatment of gaseous benzene. Biotechnol Bioeng 72(2):156–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Davidson CT, Daugulis AJ (2003) The treatment of gaseous benzene by two-phase partitioning bioreactors: a high performance alternative to the use of biofilters. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 62:297–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Andrews GF, Noah KS (1995) Design of gas-treatment bioreactors. Biotechnol Prog 11(5):498–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bouillot P, Canales A, Pareilleux A, Huyard A, Goma G (1990) Membrane bioreactors for the evaluation of maintenance phenomena in wastewater treatment. J Ferment Bioeng 69(3):178–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sachidanandham R, Kalaiselvi G (1998) Maintenance requirements in Bacillus sphaericus 1593M under dual substrate limitations estimated at zero growth rate in a total cell retention culture. Bioprocess Eng 19:243–245Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nielsen DR, Daugulis AJ, McLellan PJ (2005) Quantifying maintenance requirements from the steady-state operation of a two-phase partitioning bioscrubber. Biotechnol Bioeng 90(2):248–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Diks RMM, Ottengraf SPP, Vrijland S (1994) The existence of a biological equilibrium in a trickling filter for waste gas purification. Biotechnol Bioeng 44:1279–1287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ellis LBM, Hou BK, Kang W, Wackett LP (2003) The University of Minnesota biocatalysis/biodegradation database: post-genomic datamining. Nucleic Acids Res 31:262–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Monero A, Lanza L, Zilli M, Sene L, Converti A (2003) Batch kinetics of pseudomonas sp. growth on benzene. modelling of product and substrate inhibitions. Biotechnol Prog 19(2):676–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gibson DT, Koch JR, Kallio RE (1968) Oxidative degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons by microorganisms. i. enzymatic formation of catechol from benzene. Biochemistry 7(7):2653–2662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hamzah RY, Al-Baharna BS (1994) Catechol ring cleavage in Pseudomonas cepacia: the simultaneous induction of ortho and meta pathways. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 41:250–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sene L, Converti A, Felipe MGA, Zilli M (2002) Sugarcane bagasse as alternative packing material for biofiltration of benzene polluted gaseous streams: a preliminary study. Bioresource Technol 83:153–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Le Cloirec P, Humeau P, Ramirez-Lopez EM (2001) Biotreatments of odours: control and performances of a biofilter and a bioscrubber. Water Sci Technol 44(9):219–226Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zilli M, Daffonchio D, Di Felice R, Giordani M, Converti A (2004) Treatment of benzene-contaminated airstreams in laboratory-scale biofilters packed with raw and sieved sugarcane bagasse and with peat. Biodegradation 15:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kim JO (2003) Degradation of benzene and ethylene in biofilters. Process Biochem 39:447–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Deshusses MA, Johnson CT (2000) Development and validation of a simple protocol to rapidly determine the performance of biofilters for VOC treatment. Environ Sci Technol 34(3):461–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Zhou Q, Huang YL, Tseng D-H, Shim H, Yang S-T (1998) A trickling fibrous-bed bioreactor for biofiltration of benzene in air. J Chem Technol Biot 73:359–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lu C, Chu W, Lin M-R (2000) Removal of BTEX vapor from waste gases by a trickle bed biofilter. J Air Waste Manage 50:411–417Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bailey JE, Ollis DF (1977) Biochemical engineering fundamentals. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Metcalf and Eddy (1991) Wastewater engineering: treatment, disposal, reuse, 3rd edn. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Edwards FG, Nirmalakhandan (1996) Biological treatment of airstreams contaminated with VOCs: an overview. Water Sci Technol 34(3–4):565–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kinney KA, Loehr RC, Corsi RL (1999) Vapor-phase bioreactors: avoiding problems through better design and operation. Environ Prog 18(3):222–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Metris A, Gerrard AM, Cumming RH, Weigner P, Paca J (2001) Modelling shock loadings and starvation in the biofiltration of toluene and xylene. J Chem Technol Biot 76:565–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Nielsen
    • 1
  • Kyla N. Sask
    • 1
  • P. James McLellan
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Daugulis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

Personalised recommendations