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Environ Technol. 2014 Mar-Apr;35(5-8):851-8.

Optimization of low energy sonication treatment for granular activated carbon colonizing biomass assessment.


This study is aimed at optimizing a low energy sonication (LES) treatment for granular activated carbon (GAC)-colonizing biomass detachment and determination, evaluating detachment efficiency and the effects of ultrasound exposure on bacterial cell viability. GAC samples were collected from two filters fed with groundwater. Conventional heterotrophic plate count (HPC) and fluorescence microscopy with a double staining method were used to evaluate cell viability, comparing two LES procedures, without and with periodical bulk substitution. A 20 min LES treatment, with bulk substitution after cycles of 5 min as maximum treatment time, allowed to recover 87%/100% of attached biomass, protecting detached bacteria from ultrasound damaging effects. Observed viable cell inactivation rate was 6.5/7.9% cell/min, with membrane-compromised cell damage appearing to be even higher (11.5%/13.1% cell/min). Assessing bacterial detachment and damaging ultrasound effects, fluorescence microscopy turned out to be more sensitive compared to conventional HPC. The optimized method revealed a GAC-colonizing biomass of 9.9 x 10(7) cell/gGAC for plant 1 and 8.8 x 10(7) cell/gGAC for plant 2, 2 log lower than reported in literature. The difference between the two GAC-colonizing biomasses is higher in terms of viable cells (46.3% of total cells in plant 1 GAC-colonizing biomass compared to the 33.3% in plant 2). Studying influent water contamination through multivariate statistical analyses, apossible combined toxic and genotoxic effect of chromium VI and trichloroethylene was suggested as a reason for the lower viable cell fraction observed in plant 2 GAC-colonizing population.

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