Removal and biodegradation of naphthenic acids by biochar and attached environmental biofilms in the presence of co-contaminating metals


Bioresource Technology, 216: 352–361, 2016
By Frankel ML, TI Bhuiyan, A Veksha, MA Demeter, DB Layzell, RJ Helleur, JM Hill, RJ Turner

This study evaluated the efficacy of using a combined biofilm-biochar approach to remove organic (naphthenic acids (NAs)) and inorganic (metals) contaminants from process water (OSPW) generated by Canada’s oil sands mining operations. A microbial community sourced from an OSPW sample was cultured as biofilms on several carbonaceous materials. Two biochar samples, from softwood bark (SB) and Aspen wood (N3), facilitated the most microbial growth (measured by protein assays) and were used for NA removal studies performed with and without biofilms, and in the presence and absence of contaminating metals. Similar NA removal was seen in 6-day sterile N3 and SB assays (>30%), while biodegradation by SB-associated biofilms increased NA removal to 87% in the presence of metals. Metal sorption was also observed, with up to four times more immobilization of Fe, Al, and As on biofilm-associated biochar. These results suggest this combined approach may be a promising treatment for OSPW.

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