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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2005 Sep 20;91(6):743-53.

Comparative study of methanol, butyrate, and hydrogen as electron donors for long-term dechlorination of tetrachloroethene in mixed anerobic cultures.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Rome La Sapienza, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.


This study examined the ability of different electron donors (i.e., hydrogen, methanol, butyrate, and yeast extract) to sustain long-term (500 days) reductive dechlorination of tetrachloroethene (PCE) in anerobic fill-and-draw bioreactors operated at 3:1 donor:PCE ratio (defined on a total-oxidation basis for the donor). Initially (i.e., until approximately day 80), the H(2)-fed bioreactor showed the best ability to completely dechlorinate the dosed PCE (0.5 mmol/L) to ethene whereas, in the presence of methanol, butyric acid or no electron donor added (but low-level yeast extract), dechlorination was limited by the fermentation of the organic substrates and in turn by H(2) availability. As the study progressed, the H(2)-fed reactor experienced a diminishing ability to dechlorinate, while more stable dechlorinating activity was maintained in the reactors that were fed organic donors. The initial diminished ability of the H(2)-fed reactor to dechlorinate (after about 100 days), could be partially explained in terms of increased competition for H(2) between dechlorinators and methanogens, whereas other factors such as growth-factor limitation and/or accumulation of toxic and/or inhibitory metabolites were shown to play a role for longer incubation periods (over 500 days). In spite of decreasing activity with time, the H(2)-fed reactor proved to be the most effective in PCE dechlorination: after about 500 days, more than 65% of the added PCE was dechlorinated to ethene in the H(2)-fed reactor, versus 36%, 22%, and <1% in the methanol-fed, butyrate-fed, and control reactors, respectively.

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