Research Paper | Published:

Biological Oxidation of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by a Methanotrophic Bacterium

Bio/Technologyvolume 10pages15761578 (1992) | Download Citation



Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), proposed as alternatives to the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), have been considered recalcitrant to biological degradation. We report the aerobic degradation by a methanotrophic bacterium of three out of five HCFCs and one out of three hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) tested. The ability of Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b to degrade these compounds depended on the degree and position of halogen substitution. Gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and ion chromatography were used to verify the transformation of the HCFCs and HFCs. The stoichiometric release of free chloride and fluoride ions indicated complete mineralization by the reaction. The wide dissemination and abundance of methanotrophs in the environment suggest that these organisms may provide a natural sink for some the CFC replacement compounds.

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  1. Burt D. Ensley: Corressponding author.


  1. Envirogen, Inc., Princeton Research Center, 4100 Quakerbridge Road, Lawrenceville, NJ, 08648

    • Mary F. DeFlaun
    • , Burt D. Ensley
    •  & Robert J. Steffan


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