The degradability of phenol and trichloroethene (TCE) by Pseudomonas putida BCRC 14349 in both suspended culture and immobilized culture systems are investigated. Chitosan beads at a size of about 1-2 mm were employed to encapsulate the P. putida cells, becoming an immobilized culture system. The phenol concentration was controlled at 100 mg/L, and that of TCE was studied from 0.2 to 20 mg/L. The pH, between 6.7 and 10, did not affect the degradation of either phenol or TCE in the suspended culture system. However, it was found to be an important factor in the immobilized culture system in which the only significant degradation was observed at pH >8. This may be linked to the surface properties of the chitosan beads and its influence on the activity of the bacteria. The transfer yield of TCE on a phenol basis was almost the same for the suspended and immobilized cultures (0.032 mg TCE/mg phenol), except that these yields occurred at different TCE concentrations. The transfer yield at a higher TCE concentration for the immobilized system suggested that the cells immobilized in carriers can be protected from harsh environmental conditions. For kinetic rate interpretation, the Monod equation was employed to describe the degradation rates of phenol, while the Haldane's equation was used for TCE degradation. Based on the kinetic parameters obtained from the two equations, the rate for the immobilized culture systems was only about 1/6 to that of the suspended culture system for phenol degradation, and was about 1/2 for TCE degradation. The slower kinetics observed for the immobilized culture systems was probably due to the slow diffusion of substrate molecules into the beads. However, compared with the suspended cultures, the immobilized cultures may tolerate a higher TCE concentration as much less inhibition was observed and the transfer yield occurred at a higher TCE concentration.
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