Removal of benzene from wastewater via Fenton pre-treatment followed by enzyme catalyzed polymerization

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study investigated the feasibility of a two-step process for the removal of benzene from buffered synthetic wastewater. Benzene is outside the scope of enzymatic removal. In order to remove it from wastewater using enzyme, its pretreatment by modified Fenton reaction was employed to generate the corresponding phenolic compounds. In the first phase, the optimum pH, H2O2 and Fe2+ concentrations and reaction time for the Fenton reaction were determined to maximize the conversion of benzene to phenolic compounds without causing significant mineralization. The pretreatment process was followed by oxidative polymerization of the phenolic compounds catalyzed by a laccase from Trametes villosa. Factors of interest for the three-hour enzymatic treatment were pH and laccase concentration. Under optimum Fenton reaction conditions, 80% conversion of the initial benzene concentration was achieved, giving a mixture containing oxidative dimerization product (biphenyl) and hydroxylation products (phenol, catechol, resorcinol, benzoquinone and hydroquinone). Enzymatic removal of biphenyl and benzoquinone was not possible but 2.5 U/mL laccase was successful in removal of the rest of the phenolic products.

Keywords: benzene, enzymatic treatment, hazardous waste, modified Fenton reaction, phenolic compounds

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