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ICECHIM - Biotechnology & Bioanalysis Laboratory


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Advanced Solutions for reducing of the volatile organic compounds content in surface and underground waters (RECOV)


  • Funds: National Authority for Scientific Research, “Excellence Research Programme – Biotech Programme
  • Project type: CEEX Module I
  • Project value: 1.400.000 lei
  • Project period: 24 months
  • PROJECT AIM: The aim of present project is to realize an integrate system to remove the volatile organic compounds from ground and surface waters, combining the advantages of bioremediation and extraction with liquid membranes. The project with his scientific information and expected results is designed to be a contribution to one of the major objectives of our country, as regarding the European integration – the environmental protection. The project is focused on the volatile organic compounds, known as important and dangerous pollutants of the environment with dramatic effect on humans and wildlife.
  • PRESENTATION: Interest in the biodegradation of volatile organic compounds is motivated by their ubiquitous distribution, growing quantity as a consequence of industrial activities and their potentially deleterious effect on human health. Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) are carbon-containing compounds that evaporate easily from water into air at normal air temperatures. VOCs are contained in a wide variety of commercial, industrial and residential products including fuel oils, gasoline, solvents, cleaners and degreasers, paints, inks, dyes, refrigerants and pesticides. The project proposes the removal of organic contaminants using an integrative system comprising bioremediation techniques and the efficiency of liquid membranes to selectively separate organic pollutants. Bioremediation consists in the destruction of pollutants or at least transformation of them into compounds with less toxicity, using natural biological activities. The major factors affecting bioremediation are: microbial (growth, enzyme induction, enrichment of the capable microbial population, production of toxic metabolites), environmental (lack of nutrients, depletion of preferential substrates, inhibitory conditions), substrate (chemical structure, concentration, toxicity and solubility of contaminant), process features (aerobic or anaerobic; growth or co-metabolism), physico-chemical bioavailability of pollutants (equilibrium sorption, irreversible sorption), mass transfer limitations (oxygen diffusion and solubility, diffusion of nutrients, solubility/miscibility in/with water). Depending on the site and its contaminants, bioremediation may be safer and less expensive than alternative solutions. The liquid membranes with different configurations (liquid membranes, immobilized liquid membranes) are used in extraction processes. The most significant emerging application of membranes in bioremediation involves the use of membranes to selectively separate hydrophobic organic pollutants from contaminated streams and to bring them in contact with microbes (aerobic and anaerobic). The method is highly selective, has low operating costs because of the recovery and reuse of organic phase, high separation rate due to large separation surface.

  • project coordinator
    National Institute Research – Development in Chemistry and Petrochemistry - ICECHIM
    Project director: dr. Chem. Luiza Jecu; tel/fax: 021-316.30.63;
    Spl. Independentei 202, 06021, Bucharest
  • University Politehnica Bucharest – Faculty of Applied Chemistry and Materials Science
    Conf. Dr. eng. Anicuta Stoica, tel 021-402.38
    Str. Polizu nr 1, Bucharest
  • Institute of Biochemistry - Romanian Academy
    Dr. Biochem. Anca Roseanu-Constantinescu; tel/fax 021-223.90.069/021-223.90.68
    Spl. Independentei 296, 06031, Bucharest
  • Scientific Research Centre for Defence NBC and Ecology
    lt. Col. eng. Maricel Cutuhan, tel/fax 021-332.1199; int 110/021-332.21.15
    Sos. Oltenitei, nr. 225, 041309, Bucharest

    • Utilization of microbial potential of indigene strains
    • Analysis of membrane capacity to perform advanced separations
    • Study of physic-chemical and biochemical phenomena involved in transport process
    • Development of research units as a consequence of specific equipment acquisition to ensure a high technical level comparative to European one
    • Obtainment and characterization of liquid membrane, emulsion or immobilized on support
    • Evaluation of factors affecting membrane stability
    • Selection of microbial strains able to grow and develop on a medium with VOCs
    • Improvement of tolerance of microorganisms towards organic contaminants
    • Evaluation of factors affecting liquid membranes stability and of theirs possibilities to create an optimum life medium for microorganisms
    • Elaboration of a hybrid laboratory technology concerning bioremediaton and liquid membranes in various configurations
    • Dissemination of obtained results

    • PHASE I/2006
    • Studies on volatile organic compounds removal from waste waters using liquid membranes and microbial systems. Issues:
      • General considerations on volatile organic compounds: chemical characterization, health effects
      • Use of liquid membranes in waste waters decontamination: definition, obtainment and classification; mechanisms and applications
      • Volatile organic compounds degradation by biological systems: microbial strains selections, cultivations conditions.
      Microbial strains tested: Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus amyilolichefaciens , Candida utilis, Candida lipolytica, Candida membranes, Penicillium sp., Aspergillus niger, Trichoderma viridae, Pleurotus sp., Phanerochaetae crysosporium, Phanerochaetae sp. Growth substrate: volatile organic compounds (o-xylene, benzene, toluene, binary and ternary mixtures). Analysis: microbiological analysis (microscopic observations, optical density, dry weight) and determination of volatile organic compounds using GC/MS.
    • PHASE II/2007.
    • Elaboration of a laboratory model for liquid membranes to be used in advanced purification processes Issues:
      • Advantages of liquid membranes use in purification processes
      • Emulsion obtainment
      • Dispersion/Extraction/Sedimentation
      • Emulsion stability
      Experimental conditions for o-xylene removal from waste waters are: agitation speed 150 rpm; membrane phase – paraffin oil; o-xylene concentration; emulgator concentration – lecithin, SPAN 80; internal phase – Tween 60 aqueous solution; separation operating system- discontinue.

      The organic contaminants removal from waste waters using liquid membranes is dependent of many factors such as: emulsion stability, agitation speed, rapport between emulsion phase and external phase, rapport between internal phase and membrane phase. Experimental data for o-xylene removal from industrial effluents recommend an emulsion with following structure: paraffin oil as internal phase; emulgator – lecithin; internal phase – Tween 60. An optimal combination emulgator/organic solvent have allowed to obtain 99% xylene removal efficiency.
      • Public presentation of doctoral dissertation in domain of advanced separation methods (liquid membranes).
      • 2 young peoples employed (high graduate in biology and technological biochemistry)
      • Luiza Jecu , Amalia Gheorghe, Gabriel Epure, Florina Popea, Andreea Rosu,,Anca Roseanu, A BIOLOGICAL TREATMENT FOR THE PURIFICATION OF WASTE WATERS CONTAINING VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS, Romanian International Conference on Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, RICCCE XV, Editura Printech, 2007, S-4-8.
      • Amalia Gheorghe, Anicuta Stoica, Marta Stroescu, Luiza Jecu, ADVANCED PURIFICATION METHODS TO REMOVE VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS FROM SURFACE AND UNDERGROUND WATERS, Romanian International Conference on Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, RICCCE XV, Editura Printech, 2007, S-4-43.
      • Luiza Jecu, Amalia Gheorghe, Florina Popea, Andreea Rosu, Gabriel Epure, DEGRADAREA COMPUSILOR ORGANICI VOLATILI SUB ACTIUNEA SISTEMELOR BIOLOGICE, Simpozionul internațional PRIORITATILE CHIMIEI PENTRU O DEZVOLTARE DURABILA PRIOCHEM ediția a III-a, ICECHIM-București, 29-30 octombrie 2007.
    • Phase III/2008.
    • Elaboration of laboratory model to reduce VOCs level using microorganisms (Activity III.1. Model elaboration and Activity III.2. Realization and experimentation of laboratory model)
      A laboratory model to reduce VOCs level using microorganisms was built, comprising the following issues: selection of microorganism able to use VOCs as carbon and energy source; determination of maximum allowed concentration of VOCs in culture medium; cultivation of selected microbial strains; testing of nutrient medium formula. The selected strains were cultivated on medium containing binary and tertiary mixtures of VCOs. All the strains presented the same behavior against substrate, with preference for toluene, ortho - and para-xylene. The presence of aromatic ring substitution facilitated the degradation process, the most recalcitrant being benzene, either alone or in mixtures. The degradation process was studied as regarding the enzymes involved. The analysis method for volatile organic compounds was established.
    • Dissemination activity
    • Jecu L., Gheorghe A., Popea F., Rosu A., Stoica A., Stroescu M., Potential of microbial species in biodegradation of volatile organic compounds from waters, Chemical Engineering Transactions, vol. 14, 501-507 (Proceedings of 1st International Conference on Industrial Biotechnology, IBIC 2008, Naples, Italy, 7-11 june ), eds. Gennaro Marino, Enrico Bardone, Aurelio Viglia; ISBN 978-88-95608-02-0).
    • Phase IV/2008.
    • Advanced purification of waste waters containing volatile organic compounds (Activity IV.1 Elaboration of an integrated model n and Activity IV.2. Publication and communication of project results)
      A laboratory experimental model for integration of advanced separation and bioremediation techniques was developed. The emulsion liquid membranes were used to reduce the VOCs level, the process yield being around 90%. The composition of emulsion liquid membranes were studied, the best results being obtained using Tween 60 as internal phase and a rapport Vem/Vext=1/4. The selected microorganisms, in optimal conditions, degraded the organic compound residual in few days, depending on the organism type. The most active was Penicillium sp. which was able to metabolize the VOC in 3 days, while Pseudomonas and Candida needed almost 5 days.
    • Dissemination activity
      • Luiza Jecu, Amalia Gheorghe, Florina Popea, Andreea Rosu, Elaborarea unei tehnici integrate de laborator membrane lichide –microorganisme pentru decontaminarea apelor uzate, Simpozionul Internațional PRIORITATILE CHIMIEI PENTRU O DEZVOLTARE DURABILA PRIOCHEM ediția a IV-a, ICECHIM-București, 27-28 octombrie 2008 (preparing).
      • Andreea Rosu, Luiza Jecu, Amalia Gheorghe, Florina Popea, Aspecte microbiologice ale cultivarilor pe medii contin compusi organic toxici, Simpozionul Internațional PRIORITATILE CHIMIEI PENTRU O DEZVOLTARE DURABILA PRIOCHEM ediția a IV-a, ICECHIM-București, 27-28 octombrie 2008 (preparing).
      • Amalia Gheorghe, Anicuta Stoica, Marta Stroescu, Luiza Jecu, Advanced purification methods to remove volatile organic compounds from surface and underground waters, Revista de chimie (in press).

    • Director de proiect: dr. Luiza Jecu;
      tel/fax: 021-316.30.63;

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