Sequential anaerobic/aerobic biodegradation of chlorinated hydrocarbons in activated carbon barriers

A. Tiehm, M. Gozan, A. Müller, H. Schell, H. Lorbeer, P. Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to develop a long lasting, sequential anaerobic/aerobic biological activated carbon barrier. In the biobarrier, pollutant adsorption on granular activated carbon (GAC) and biodegradation occur simultaneously. Trichloroethene (TCE), chlorobenzene (CB), and benzene were used as model pollutants. In the first barrier, that was operated under anaerobic conditions with sucrose and ethanol as auxiliary substrates, TCE was completely converted to lower chlorinated metabolites, predominantly cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE). The reductive dechlorination process was stable for about 300 d, although the concomitant sulphate-reducing and methanogenic processes varied considerably. In the second barrier, that was operated with addition of hydrogen peroxide and nitrate, dechlorination was limited by a lack of oxygen and restricted mainly to CB biodegradation. Additional aerobic batch tests revealed that the metabolites of anaerobic TCE dechlorination, i.e. cis-DCE and vinyl chloride, were oxidatively dechlorinated in the presence of suitable auxiliary substrates such as ethene, CB, benzene, or sucrose and ethanol. During periods of low biological activity, elimination of TCE and CB occurred by adsorption in the GAC barriers. The pre-sorbed pollutants were available for subsequent biodegradation resulting in a bioregeneration of the activated carbon barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-58
Number of pages8
JournalWater Science and Technology: Water Supply
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Activated carbon
  • Biobarrier
  • Bioregeneration
  • Chlorobenzene
  • Chloroethenes
  • Dechlorination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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