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Perchlorate is an oxidizer that has been routinely used in solid rocket motors by the Department of Defense and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Royal Demolition Explosive (RDX) is a major component of military high explosives and is used in a wide variety of munitions. Perchlorate bearing wastewater typically results from production of solid rocket motors, while RDX is transferred to Army industrial wastewaters during load, assemble and pack operations for new munitions, and hot water or steam washout for disposal and deactivation of old munitions (commonly referred to as demilitarization, or simply demil).
Biological degradation in Anaerobic Fluidized Bed Reactors (AFBR), has been shown to be an effective method for the removal of both perchlorate and RDX in contaminated wastewater. The focus of this study was to determine the effectiveness of removal of perchlorate and RDX, individually and when co-mingled, using ethanol as an electron donor under steady state conditions. Three AFBRs were used to assess the effectiveness of this process in treating the wastewater. The performance of the bioreactors was monitored relative to perchlorate, RDX, and chemical oxygen demand removal effectiveness. The experimental results demonstrated that the biodegradation of perchlorate and RDX was more effective in bioreactors receiving the single contaminant than in the bioreactor where both contaminants were fed.