Development of a Novel Bioreactor System for the Treatment of Gaseous Benzene

  • Yeom, Sung-Ho (Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Seoul National University) ;
  • Daugulis, Andrew J. (Department of Chemical Engineering, Queen's University) ;
  • Yoo, Young-Je (School of Chemical Engineering, Seoul National University)
  • Published : 2000.11.09


A novel, continuous bioreactor system combining a bubble column (absorption section) and a two-phase bioreactor (degradation section) has been designed to treat a gas stream containing benzene. The bubble column contained hexadecane as an absorbent for benzene, and was systemically chosen considering physical, biological, environmental, operational and economic factors. This solvent has infinite solubility for benzene and very low volatility. After absorbing benzene in the bubble column, the hexadecane served as the organic phase of the two-phase partitioning bioreactor, transferring benzene into the aqueous phase where it was degraded by Alcaligenes xylosoxidans Y234. The hexadecane was then continuously recirculated back to the absorber section for the removal of additional benzene. All mass transfer and biodegradation characteristics in this system were investigated prior to operation of the integrated unit, and these included: the mass transfer rate of benzene in the absorption column, the mass transfer rate of benzene from the organic phase into the aqueous phase in the two-phase bioreactor, the stripping rate of benzene out of the two-phase bioreactor, etc. All of these parameters were incorporated into model equations, which were used to investigate the effects of operating conditions on the performance of the system. Several experiments were conducted to show the feasibility of this system. This process is believed to be very practical for the treatment of high concentrations of gaseous pollutants.