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Degradation of xenobiotics by thermophilic microorganisms


The aim of the proposed research project is to exploit the potential of thermophilic microorganisms for the degradation of xenobiotic compounds under conditions, which occur in many waste streams of production plants that are so far considered not to be treatable biologically. In the four laboratories involved a screening for novel thermophilic microorganisms will be conducted according to their previous experience. Thereby various conditions like anaerobic and aerobic batch cultures, anaerobic soil columns and aerobic and anaerobic Continous airlift and stirred tank reactors will be used. The xenobiotics investigated will include highly recalcitrant pesticides like lindane and dieldrin and higher condensed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are poorly soluble at ambient
temperatures and should therefore be better degradable at elevated temperatures. In addition highly chlorinated hydrocarbons like hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and
tetrachloroethylene will be dehaloginated under anaerobic
conditions. The resulting lower chlorinated or unchlorinated compounds like dichloroethane, dichloropropane, chlorophonols, chlorobenzoates, phenol, toluene and xylenes will then be degraded aerobically.
In order to monitor the organisms involved in thermophilic
biodegradation in pilot plants and in the environment specific probes for their monitoring will be developed.
The organisms obtained in this project will be used to set up pilot plant systems for studies towards determining loading rates and degradative abilities together with economic feasibility studies for the end of pipe treatement of hot waste streams from various production plants.

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