BTEX removal by fungi in continuous flow aerobic reactor

ABSTRACT The removal of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) compounds by Aspergillus niger AN 400 was studied in a continuous flow reactor which was operated at hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 12 hours evaluate the efficiency of the system in the bioremediation of water polluted with gasoline in the presence (Step 1) and absence (Step 2) of 0.5 g.L-1 glucose. In the first step it was also studied the influence of the addition of nutrients in the influent on the efficiency of the process. The addition of nutrients was beneficial to the process and, with the removal of glucose, the efficiency was maintained due to the use of ethanol - which is a Brazilian gasoline constituent (25%) - and was used as co-substrate. Both ethanol and glucose are more easily assimilated carbon and energy sources for fungi and were used as co-substrate in the degradation of BTEX. Thus, in Step 2, when only ethanol was in the biomedia, averages percentage of 88% for benzene, 90% in toluene, 90% ethylbenzene and 91% for meta, para and ortho-xylene (m, p and o-xylene) were reached, with the formation of phenolic by-products in between. The fungal population in the middle prevailed throughout the operation of the reactor.