Propane-Induced biodegradation of vapor phase trichoroethylene. Academic Article uri icon


  • Microbial degradation of trichloroethylene (TCE) has been demonstrated under aerobic conditions with propane. The primary objective of this research was to evaluate the feasibility of introducing a vapor phase form of TCE in the presence of propane to batch bioreactors containing a liquid phase suspension of Mycobacterium vaccae JOB5 to accomplish degradation. The reactor system consisted of three phases: a vapor phase introducing air, propane, and TCE; a liquid phase of the microbial suspension; and a solid phase in the form of the microorganisms. Long-term and initial rate experiments were conducted on three culture sets to evaluate microbial response. In two long-term test fed propane and approximately 0.1 mg/L and 1 mg/L of TCE, respectively, propane utilization was more efficient at the high TCE concentration (600 mmol propane/mmol TCE versus 11,900 mmol propane/mmol TCE), because the propane degradation rate was approximately the same for both tests (6.73 mg/L . h and 7.85 mg/L . h for the high and low tests). In addition, TCE utilization decreased after complete propane consumption. Initial rate tests on culture sets fed propane only revealed that cells with a history of exposure to a high concentration of TCE had the highest specific growth rate, but the lowest half-saturation constant (7.60e(-3) h(-1) and 0.10 mg/L, respectively). Tests fed variable TCE concentrations (0.031 to 5.378 mg/L in the liquid phase) with no propane showed TCE depletion but no biomass growth. The tests revealed that the TCE removal increased as the TCE concentration increased, indicating a greater removal efficiency at the higher concentrations. Tests with a constant initial propane concentration and variable liquid phase TCE concentration revealed that specific propane utilization was essentially the same. (c) 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

published proceedings

  • Biotechnol Bioeng

author list (cited authors)

  • Wilcox, D. W., Autenrieth, R. L., & Bonner, J. S.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Wilcox, DW||Autenrieth, RL||Bonner, JS

publication date

  • May 1995