Degradation and fate of carbon tetrachloride in unadapted methanogenic granular sludge

Miriam H.A. Van Eekert, Thomas J. Schröder, Alfons J.M. Stams, Gosse Schraa, Jim A. Field

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41 Scopus citations


The potential of granular sludge from upfiow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors for bioremediation of chiorinated pollutants was evaluated by using carbon tetrachloride (CT) as a model compound. Granular sludges cultivated in UASB reactors on methanol, a volatile fatty acid mixture, or sucrose readily degraded CT supplied at a concentration of 1,500 nmol/batch (approximately 10 μM) without any prior exposure to organohalogens. The maximum degradation rate was 1.9 μmol of CT g of volatile suspended solids- 1 day-1. The main end products of CT degradation were CO2 and Cl-, and the yields of these end products were 44 and 68%, respectively, of the initial amounts of [14C]CT and CT-Cl. Lower chlorinated methanes accumulated in minor amounts temporarily. Autoclaved (dead) sludges were capable of degrading CT at rates two- to threefold lower than those for living sludges, indicating that abiotic processes (mediated by cofactors or other sludge components) played an important role in the degradation observed. Reduced components in the autoclaved sludge were vital for CT degradation. A major part (51%) of the CT was converted abiotically to CS2. The amount of CO2 produced (23%) was lower and the amount of Cl- produced (86%) was slightly higher with autoclaved sludge than with living sludge. Both living and autoclaved sludges could degrade chloroform. However, only living sludge degraded dichloromethane and methylchloride. These results indicate that reductive dehalogenation, which was mediated better by living sludge than by autoclaved sludge, is only a minor pathway for CT degradation. The main pathway involves substitutive and oxidative dechlorination reactions that lead to the formation of CO2. Granular sludge, therefore, has outstanding potential for gratuitous dechlorination of CT to safe end products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2350-2356
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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