Chemical characterization and anaerobic treatment of bitumen fume condensate using a membrane bioreactor

Víctor S. García Rea*, Beatriz Egerland Bueno, Julian D. Muñoz Sierra, Athira Nair, Israel J. Lopez Prieto, Daniel Cerqueda-García, Jules B. van Lier, Henri Spanjers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Bitumen fume condensate (BFC) is a hazardous wastewater generated at asphalt reclamation and production sites. BFC contains a wide variety of potentially toxic organic pollutants that negatively affect anaerobic processes. In this study, we chemically characterized BFC produced at an industrial site and evaluated its degradation under anaerobic conditions. Analyses identified about 900 compounds including acetate, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenolic compounds, and metal ions. We estimated the half maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of methanogenesis of 120, 224, and 990 mgCOD·L−1 for three types of anaerobic biomass, which indicated the enrichment and adaptation potentials of methanogenic biomass to the wastewater constituents. We operated an AnMBR (7.0 L, 35 °C) for 188 days with a mixture of BFC, phenol, acetate, and nutrients. The reactor showed a maximum average COD removal efficiency of 87.7 ± 7.0 %, that corresponded to an organic conversion rate of 286 ± 71 mgCOD−1·L−1d−1. The microbial characterization of the reactor's biomass showed the acetoclastic methanogen Methanosaeta as the most abundant microorganism (43 %), whereas the aromatic and phenol degrader Syntrophorhabdus was continuously present with abundances up to 11.5 %. The obtained results offer the possibility for the application of AnMBRs for the treatment of BFC or other petrochemical wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130709
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • AnMBR
  • BFC
  • Biodegradation
  • IC
  • Microbial community dynamics


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