Biodegradation of novel amino acid derivatives suitable for complexing agents in pulp bleaching applications

Sirpa Metsärinne, Erja Ronkainen, Tuula Tuhkanen, Reijo Aksela, Mika Sillanpää

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The biodegradability of four novel diethanolamine derivative complexing agents was examined by using two biodegradation tests standardised by OECD (301B and 301F). Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) were employed as reference substances. Biodegradation of the new complexing agents was studied both with unacclimated and acclimated inocula as well as by simulating wastewater treatment in sequencing batch reactors (SBRs). These new complexing agents were of technical grade, and therefore, the results are only indicative but these new compounds hold promise for use as complexing agents in the pulp and paper industry. The novel complexing agents were not readily biodegradable but they showed slight biodegradation. Around 10-30% degradation was found in the SBR where degradation was followed by measurement of concentration. Moreover the novel complexing agents did not have any negative impact on reactor performance as measured by chemical oxygen demand reduction. In the standardised biodegradation tests at best around 50% degradation was observed with the acclimated inoculum and in the prolonged test whereas EDTA and DTPA exhibited no biodegradation. The elevated degradation in acclimated sludge indicates that the water treatment plant microbes are capable of decomposing these molecules under favourable conditions. The total concentration of novel complexing agents decreased slightly during biodegradation tests, while the EDTA and DTPA concentrations remained stable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradation test
  • Complexing agents
  • DTPA
  • Diethanolamine derivatives
  • EDTA
  • Sequencing batch reactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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