Synergistic reductive dechlorination of 1,1,1-trichloroethane and trichloroethene and aerobic degradation of 1,4-dioxane
Widespread use of chlorinated solvents for commercial and industrial purposes makes co-occurring contamination by 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), trichloroethene (TCE), and 1,4-dioxane (1,4-D) a serious problem for groundwater. TCE and TCA often are treated by reductive dechlorination, while 1,4-D resists reductive treatment. Aerobic bacteria are able to oxidize 1,4-D, but the biological oxidation of 1,4-D could be inhibited TCA, TCE, and their reductive transformation products. To overcome the challenges from co-occurring contamination, I propose a two-stage synergistic system. First, anaerobic reduction of the chlorinated hydrocarbons takes place in a H2-based hollow-fiber “X-film” (biofilm or catalyst-coated film) reactor (MXfR), where “X-film” can be a “bio-film” (MBfR) or an abiotic “palladium-film” (MPfR). Then, aerobic removal of 1,4-D and other organic compounds takes place in an O2-based MBfR. For the reductive part, I tested reductive bio-dechlorination of TCA and TCE simultaneously in an MBfR. I found that the community of anaerobic bacteria can rapidly reduce TCE to cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE), but further reductions of cis-DCE to vinyl chloride (VC) and VC to ethene were inhibited by TCA. Also, it took months to grow a strong biofilm that could reduce TCA and TCE. Another problem with reductive dechlorination in the MBfR is that mono-chloroethane (MCA) was not reduced to ethane. In contrast, a film of palladium nano-particles (PdNPs), i.e., an MPfR, could the simultaneous reductions of TCA and TCE to mainly ethane, with only small amounts of intermediates: 1,1-dichloroethane (DCA) (~3% of total influent TCA and TCE) and MCA (~1%) in continuous operation. For aerobic oxidation, I enriched an ethanotrophic culture that could oxidize 1,4-D with ethane as the primary electron donor. An O2-based MBfR, inoculated with the enriched ethanotrophic culture, achieved over 99% 1,4-D removal with ethane as the primary electron donor in continuous operation. Finally, I evaluated two-stage treatment with a H2-based MPfR followed by an O2-MBfR. The two-stage system gave complete removal of TCA, TCE, and 1,4-D in continuous operation.