Degradation of benzene by a Rhodococcus sp. using immobilized cell systems

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The continuous degradation of benzene by a Rhodococcus sp. using free and immobilized cell systems was compared. Cell entrapment in calcium and strontium alginate beads and adhesion on support materials such as glass beads were found to be unsatisfactory. Degradation of benzene by cells immobilized in either ceramic or cellulose carriers proved to be more efficient than its non-immobilized counterpart. A retention time of 36 h was required to effect a 97% degradation of benzene using suspended free cells while cells immobilized on cellulose or ceramic carriers effected 97% degradation at 24 and 18 h, respectively. Recycling of the ceramic carriers was also possible and resulted in an even shorter retention time of 12h to effect a 97% degradation of benzene. Cell adhesion on the support materials was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy.

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