Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Science

First Advisor

Dr. Ibrahim Ashour,

Second Advisor

Constantinos V. Chrysikopoulos

Third Advisor

Dr. Muftah EI Naas,


There has been increased interest in the development of technologies for the effective removal of priority pollutants from petroleum refineries and thereby protect the quality of receiving water. In this study, the removal of phenol and naphthalene from aqueous solutions using different bacterial strains, granular activated carbon and biological activated carbon as a combination of the two systems were investigated. Laboratory-scale experiments for the adsorption, biodegradation and biosorption of the two chemicals were conducted in batch reactors at 25°C and shaking at 120 rpm. Pure bacterial cultures of phenol-utilizing bacteria and naphthalene-utilizing bacteria were isolated from local enriched soil and identified to species levels.

Batch kinetics and isotherm studied for phenol and naphthalene on granular activated carbon (GAC) were carried out. The Freundlich model was found to be more appropriate than the linear and the Langmuir models in describing the isotherm data for both phenol and naphthalene. Lower removal (compared to removal by GAC) of chemicals was obtained when biomass alone was present. The removal performance of biological activated carbon (BAC) has been tested using GAC combined with the following systems: active microorganisms and two different bacterial concentrations of inactive microorganism. Inactive biomass was used as a biosorbent with GAC for two purposes: (1) investigate the contribution of biodegradation and biosorption in removing phenol and naphthalene and (2) investigate if bacteria have an adverse effect on the adsorption capability of GAC. The experiments in this study showed that biodegradation process, which in fact exists, did not play a major role in the removal of the two compounds with a suspension containing biomass plus GAC. Furthermore, reducing the microbial concentration in the BAC system has enhanced the adsorption capability of GAC. The mathematical models, which were developed for all systems, were consistent with the experimental results.