Enhanced degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by biodegradation combined with a modified Fenton reaction

Kyoungphile Nam, Wilson Rodriguez, Jerome J. Kukor

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A study has been conducted to enhance degradation of a mixture of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by combining biodegradation with hydrogen peroxide oxidation in a former manufactured gas plant (MGP) soil. An active bacterial consortium enriched from the MGP surface soil (0-2 m) biodegraded more than 90% of PAHs including 2-, 3-, and 4-ring hydrocarbons in a model soil. The consortium was also able to transform about 50% of 4- and 5-ring hydrocarbons in the MGP soil. As a chemical oxidant, Fenton's reagent (H2O2 + Fe2+) was very efficient in the destruction of a mixture of PAHs (i.e., naphthalene (NAP), fluorene (FLU), phenanthrene (PHE), anthracene (ANT), pyrene (PYR), chrysene (CHR), and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)) in the model soil; noticeably, 84.5% and 96.7% of initial PYR and BaP were degraded, respectively. In the MGP soil, the same treatment destroyed more than 80% of 2- and 3-ring hydrocarbons and 20-40% of 4- and 5-ring compounds. However, the low pH requirement (pH 2-3) for optimum Fenton reaction made the process incompatible with biological treatment and posed potential hazards to the soil ecosystem where the reagent was used. In order to overcome such limitation, a modified Fenton-type reaction was performed at near neutral pH by using ferric ions and chelating agents such as catechol and gallic acid. By the combined treatment of the modified Fenton reaction and biodegradation, more than 98% of 2- or 3-ring hydrocarbons and between 70% and 85% of 4- or 5-ring compounds were degraded in the MGP soil, while maintaining its pH about 6-6.5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 26 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Biodegradation
  • Chelating agent
  • Fenton's reagent
  • Hydrogen peroxide oxidation
  • MGP soil
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

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