Technical Bulletin No. 0989: The Potential for Biogenic Formation of Acetone, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, and Toluene in Pulp and Paper Mill Residuals

Evidence for biogenic formation of acetone, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and toluene under conditions relevant to handling, storage, and ultimate disposition of pulp and paper mill wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) residuals is summarized. Consistent with historical industrial-scale manufacturing of acetone via fermentation of simple carbohydrates using various strains of “solventogenic” clostridia, biogenic formation of acetone appears likely whenever pulp and paper mill WWTP residuals are subjected to anaerobic conditions. Although the evidence is not as strong, it also appears likely that MEK would be biogenically formed from carbohydrate substrates by various strains of Klebsiella and generic lactic acid bacteria under similar (nominally anaerobic) conditions.