Methods for Enhancing Anaerobic Degradation of Methyl Tert-butyl Ether (MTBE) and Structurally Related Fuel Oxygenates

Max Haggblom (Inventor), Piyapawn Somsamak (Inventor)

Research output: Innovation


* The slower degradation of MTBE at higher concentrations of syringate may be due to an inhibitory effect of syringate at higher concentrations. Invention Summary: Methyl tert-butyl ether, a volatile synthetic compound, has been the most frequently used fuel oxygenate which, when used with gasoline, increases octane and reduces combustion emissions. As it is a frequent water contaminant that is difficult to remove by most physical methods, a treatment of fuel-contaminated water is required. Rutgers scientists have discovered a novel method for the anaerobic degradation of MTBE and other relevant fuel related oxygenates, such as TAME, DIPE, ETBE, TBA, and isopropyl ether. Naturally occurring plant phenolic compounds such as syringic acid, vanillic acid, and guaiacol, when added as co-substrates, have been shown to enhance the degradation of oxygenates under anaerobic conditions. Under appropriate concentrations of the acids in combination with indigenous MTBE degrading bacteria, enhanced degradation rates are observed. Market Applications: Water-treatment Companies Remediation Companies Environmental Services Oil Companies Environmental Engineers/Consultants Advantages: Enhanced natural biodegradation may be a cost-effective method for controlling plume migration and reducing MTBE concentrations in the subsurface environment. The phenolic compounds that are added as co-substrates are relatively cheap and commercially available. No other methods are available that sustain MTBE degradation under anaerobic conditions. Intellectual Property & Development Status: U.S. Patent 7,867,750 issued 1/11/2011
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Enivromental Remediation and Measurement
  • Environmental protection
  • Oil Absorbtion


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