Co-encapsulation of slow release compounds and Rhodococcus rhodochrous ATCC 21198 in gellan gum beads to promote the long-term aerobic cometabolic transformation of 1,1,1-trichloroethane, cis-1,2-dichloroethene and 1,4-dioxane
Rhodococcus rhodochrous ATCC 21198 (ATCC 21198) was successfully co-encapsulated in gellan gum beads with orthosilicates as slow release compounds (SRCs) to support aerobic cometabolism of a mixture of 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), cis-dichloroethylene (cis-DCE), and 1,4-dioxane (1,4-D) at aqueous concentrations ranging from 250 to 1000 µg/L. Oxygen (O2) consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) production showed the co-encapsulated cells utilized the alcohols that were released from the co-encapsulated SRCs. Two model SRCs, tetrabutylorthosilicate (TBOS) and tetra-s-butylorthosilicate (T2BOS), which hydrolyze to produce 1- and 2- butanol, respectively, were encapsulated in gellan gum (GG) at mass loadings as high as 10% (w/w), along with ATCC 21198. In the encapsulated beads, TBOS hydrolyzed 27 times faster than T2BOS and rates were ~4 to 10 times higher in suspension than when encapsulated. In biologically active reactors, the co-encapsulated ATCC 21198 effectively utilized the SRC hydrolysis products (1- and 2-butanol) and cometabolized repeated additions of a mixture of 1,1,1-TCA, cis-DCE, and 1,4-D for over 300 days. The transformation followed pseudo-first-order kinetics. Vinyl chloride (VC) and 1,1-dichloroethene (1,1-DCE) were also transformed in the reactors. In the long-term treatment, the batch reactors with T2BOS GG beads achieved similar transformation rates, but at much lower O2 consumption rates than those with TBOS. The results demonstrate that the co-encapsulation technology can be a passive method for the cometabolic treatment of dilute groundwater plumes.