Structure–biodegradability relationship of nonylphenol isomers during biological wastewater treatment process
The relationship between nonylphenol (NP) isomer structure and its biodegradability within the wastewater treatment process of sequencing batch reactor (SBR) was investigated. The GC–MS method was used for detecting the NP isomers existing in the SBR influent, activated sludge and effluent. Fifteen NP isomers were detected in the influent, with significant biodegradability variations being observed among these isomers. It was found that the NP isomers associated with retention time of 10.553, 10.646, 10.774, and 10.906 min in the GC–MS analysis showed higher biodegradability, while the isomers with retention time of 10.475, 10.800, and 10.857 min illustrated lower biodegradability. Through analyzing the mass spectrograms, the chemical structures of four selected NP isomers in the wastewater were further deduced. The higher correlation coefficients of 0.9421 and 0.9085 were observed between the NP isomer biodegradation rates and the molecular connectivity indexes with the order of two and four, respectively. Such correlation analysis indicated that a more complex side branch structure (such as a larger side carbon-chain branch or more branches in the nonyl) of NP isomer would lead to lower biodegradability, and a longer nonyl chain of the isomer would result in a higher biodegradability.