Biological treatment of distillery waste for pollution-remediation.

Fitzgibbon FJ, Nigam P, Singh D, Marchant R.

Biotechnology Research Group, School of Applied Biological & Chemical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, UK.


The biological treatment of spent wash from molasses distilleries was investigated. Analysis of raw spent wash showed it to be a recalcitrant waste, with a high COD of 85,170 mg/l and containing inhibitory phenolic compounds. Reverse phase thin layer chromatography identified gallic and vanillic acid present in spent wash. The fungi Geotrichum candidum, Coriolus versicolor, Phanerochaete chrysosporium and Mycelia sterilia were screened for their ability to decolourize spent wash and to reduce the COD level. A 10 day pretreatment with Geotrichum candidum at 30 degrees C resulted in reducing the COD by 53.17% and total phenols by 47.82%, enabling other bioremediating organisms to grow. Coriolus versicolor immobilized in a packed-bed reactor reduced the COD of spent wash by a further 50.3%, giving an overall reduction in COD of 77% to 15,780 mg/l. A small amount of decolourization was achieved (4.2%), although the spent wash was still coloured. Present studies are encouraging and indicate that it is possible to bioremediate spent wash using a multi-stage treatment process involving an initial pretreatment step with Geotrichum candidum.

PMID: 8568640 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]