Publication date: Feb 15, 2024
Quaternary ammonia compounds (QAC), such as hexadecyltrimethyl-ammonium (CTAB), are widely used as disinfectants and in personal-care products. Their use as disinfectants grew during the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, leading to increased loads to wastewater treatment systems and the environment. Though low concentrations of CTAB are biodegradable, high concentrations are toxic to bacteria. Sufficient O delivery is a key to achieve high CTAB removal, and the O-based Membrane Biofilm Reactor (O-MBfR) is a proven means to biodegrade CTAB in a bubble-free, non-foaming manner. A strategy for achieving complete biodegradation of high-concentrations of CTAB is a two-stage O-MBfR, in which partial CTAB removal in the Lead reactor relieves inhibition in the Lag reactor. Here, more than 98 % removal of 728 mg/L CTAB could be achieved in the two-stage MBfR, and the CTAB-removal rate was 70 % higher than for a one-stage MBfR with the same O-delivery capacity. CTAB exposure shifted the bacterial community toward Pseudomonas and Stenotrophomonas as the dominant genera. In particular, P. alcaligenes and P. aeruginosa were enriched in the Lag reactor, as they were capable of biodegrading the metabolites of initial CTAB monooxygenation. Metagenomic analysis also revealed that the Lag reactor was enriched in genes for CTAB and metabolite oxygenation, due to reduced CTAB inhibition.
|Quaternary ammonium compounds