A cryogel-based bioreactor for water treatment applications

Dmitriy A. Berillo, Jonathan L. Caplin, Andrew B. Cundy, Irina N. Savina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to develop and test a non-diffusion limited, high cell density bioreactor for biodegradation of various phenol derivatives. The bioreactor was obtained using a straightforward one-step preparation method using cryostructuration and direct cross-linking of bacteria into a 3D structured (sponge-like) macroporous cryogel composite material consisting of 11.6% (by mass) cells and 1.2–1.7% polymer, with approximately 87% water (in the material pores). The macroporous cryogel composite material, composed of live bacteria, has pore sizes in the range of 20–150 μm (confirmed by SEM and Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy). The enzymatic activity of bacteria within the cryogel structure and the effect of freezing on the viability of the cross-linked cells was estimated by MTT assay. Cryogels based on Pseudomonas mendocina, Rhodococcus koreensis and Acinetobacter radioresistens were exploited for the effective bioremediation of phenol and m-cresol, and to a lesser extent 2-chlorophenol and 4-chlorophenol, utilising these phenolic contaminants in water as their only source of carbon. For evaluation of treatment scalability the bioreactors were prepared in plastic “Kaldnes” carriers to improve their mechanical properties and allow application in batch or fluidised bed water treatment modes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-334
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND
license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).


  • Bacteria immobilisation
  • Bioremediation
  • Chlorophenols
  • Cresol
  • Phenol


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