Sorption and biodegradation of vapor-phase organic compounds with wastewater sludge and food waste compost

Hye Jin Kim, Kyung Suk Cho, Jae Woo Park, Mark N. Goltz, Jee Hyeong Khim, Jae Young Kim

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1 Citation (Scopus)


To test the possible use of composted food waste and wastewater sludge as biofilters to treat gas-phase volatile organic compounds (VOCs), batch experiments were conducted with an isolated strain that could degrade aromatic compounds under aerobic conditions. A benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE) mixture was used as the gas-phase pollutant in experiments with composted food waste, sludge, and soil. Under aerobic conditions, benzene was degraded as a primary substrate and TCE was degraded cometabolically, with water contents varying from 6 to 60% (volume of water added/volume of solid). Optimal water content for VOC removal was 12% for the soil, 36% for the composted food waste, and 48% for the sludge. The extent of VOC sorption and biodegradation at the optimal water content was different for each material. With the same initial VOC concentration, more VOCs were removed by sorption onto the composted food waste and the sludge, while less VOCs were biodegraded in comparison with the results using soil. The reason the biodegradation in the soil was greater may be partly attributed to the fact that, due to less sorption, the aqueous-phase concentration of VOCs, which microorganisms could utilize as a carbon source or cometabolize, was higher. We also speculate that the distribution of microorganisms in each medium affects the rate of biodegradation. A large number of microorganisms were attached to the composted food waste and sludge. Mass transfer of VOCs and oxygen to these microorganisms, which appear to have been heterogeneously distributed in clusters, may have been limited, resulting in hindered biodegradation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1237-1244
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Aug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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