Biological fate of a polydisperse acrylate polymer in anaerobic sand-medium transport

Bruce E. Rittmann, Benjamin Henry, Joseph E. Odencrantz, Julie A. Sutfin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Soluble polyacrylate (PA), a polydisperse mixture of polyacrylate polymers, is strongly adsorbed and biodegradable. Biotic fate studies were carried out with once-through columns containing sand colonized with anaerobic biomass previously grown in a methanogenic fluidized bed. A fraction of soluble PA having a weight-average molecular weight of 16,700 and a range of molecular weight from 103 to 105 was biologically removed and mineralized to CO2. Due to its polydisperse nature, the breakthrough curve had a gradual increase to an apparent steady-state removal of approximately 60% near one day when the liquid detention time was 21 minutes. Modeling successfully explained the observed breakthrough result when the fraction was divided into components having a wide range of retardation factors (R): about 25% was strongly adsorbed (R=200 and 500), 45% was moderately adsorbed (R=50 and 100), and 30% was weakly adsorbed (R=1-10). In this study, in which active biomass already was present from utilization of a primary substrate (glucose here), equilibrium adsorption increased the time to breakthrough, which also reduced the exiting concentration by increasing the substrate contact time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-179
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • acrylate
  • adsorption
  • biodegradation
  • biotic fate
  • contact time
  • methanogenic consortium
  • modeling
  • polyacrylate
  • polydisperse
  • retardation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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