Biodegradation of mixtures of phenolic compounds in an upward-flow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor

Elias Razo-Flores, Margarita Iniestra-González, Jim A. Field, Patricia Olguin-Lora, Laura Puig-Grajales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The anaerobic biodegradability of mixtures of phenolic compounds was studied under continuous and batch systems. Continuous experiments were carried out in up-flow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactors degrading a mixture of phenol and p-cresol as the main carbon and energy sources. The total chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal above 90% was achieved even at organic loading rates as high as 7 kg COD/m3/day. Batch experiments were conducted with mixtures of phenolic compounds (phenol, p-cresol, and o-cresol) to determine the specific biodegradation rates using unadapted and adapted anaerobic granular sludge. Phenol and p-cresol were mineralized by adapted sludge with rates several orders of magnitude higher than unadapted sludge. Additionally, an UASB reactor was operated with the mixture phenol, p-cresol, and o-cresol. After 54 days of operation, 80% of o-cresol (supplied at 132 mg/L) was eliminated. The phenol biodegradation was not affected by the presence of o-cresol. These results demonstrate that major phenolic components in petrochemical effluents can be biodegraded simultaneously during anaerobic treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1006
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Anaerobic processes
  • Biodegradation
  • Cisterns
  • Methane
  • Phenol
  • Sludge
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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