Biological treatment of refinery spent caustics under halo-alkaline conditions

M. de Graaff, M.F.M. Bijmans, B. Abbas, G.J.W. Euverink, G. Muyzer, A.J.H. Janssen

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51 Citations (Scopus)


The present research demonstrates the biological treatment of refinery sulfidic spent caustics in a continuously fed system under halo-alkaline conditions (i.e. pH 9.5; Na(+)= 0.8M). Experiments were performed in identical gas-lift bioreactors operated under aerobic conditions (80-90% saturation) at 35°C. Sulfide loading rates up to 27 mmol L(-1)day(-1) were successfully applied at a HRT of 3.5 days. Sulfide was completely converted into sulfate by the haloalkaliphilic sulfide-oxidizing bacteria belonging to the genus Thioalkalivibrio. Influent benzene concentrations ranged from 100 to 600 µM. At steady state, benzene was removed by 93% due to high stripping efficiencies and biodegradation. Microbial community analysis revealed the presence of haloalkaliphilic heterotrophic bacteria belonging to the genera Marinobacter, Halomonas and Idiomarina which might have been involved in the observed benzene removal. The work shows the potential of halo-alkaliphilic bacteria in mitigating environmental problems caused by alkaline waste.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7257-7264
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • sulfur-oxidizing bacteria
  • soda lake
  • sp-nov
  • oxidation processes
  • mono lake
  • gen. nov.
  • diversity
  • sulfide
  • water
  • bacteriochlorophyll


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