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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2005 Apr 5;90(1):107-15.

Improving hexane removal by enhancing fungal development in a microbial consortium biofilter.

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Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa, Laboratorio de Bioprocesos, Departamento de Ingeniería de Procesos e Hidráulica, Av. San Rafael Atlíxco No. 186, Col. Vicentina, C.P. 09340, Mexico, Distrito Federal.


The removal of hydrophobic pollutants in biofilters is often limited by gas liquid mass transfer to the biotic aqueous phase where biodegradation occurs. It has been proposed that the use of fungi may improve their removal efficiency. To confirm this, the uptake of hexane vapors was investigated in 2.6-L perlite-packed biofilters, inoculated with a mixed culture containing bacteria and fungi, which were operated under neutral or acid conditions. For a hexane inlet load of around 140 g.m-3.h-1, elimination capacities (EC) of 60 and 100 g.m-3.h-1 were respectively reached with the neutral and acid systems. Increasing the inlet hexane load showed that the maximum EC obtained in the acid biofilter (150 g.m-3.h-1) was twice greater than in the neutral filter. The addition of bacterial inhibitors had no significant effect on EC in the acid system. The biomass in the acid biofilter was 187 mg.g-1 (dry perlite) without an important pressure drop (26.5 mm of water.m-1reactor). The greater efficiency obtained with the acid biofilter can be related to the hydrophobic aerial hyphae which are in direct contact with the gas and can absorb the hydrophobic compounds faster than the flat bacterial biofilms. Two fungi were isolated from the acid biofilter and were identified as Cladosporium and Fusarium spp. Hexane EC of 40 g.m-3.h-1 for Cladosporium sp. and 50 g.m-3.h-1 for Fusarium sp. were obtained in short time experiments in small biofilters (0.230 L). A biomass content around 30 mg.g-1 (dry perlite) showed the potential for hexane biofiltration of the strains.

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