Rapid start-up of a sulfidogenic biofilm reactor: overcoming low acetate consumption

Lourdes B. Celis, Marisol Gallegos-García, Guillermo Vidriales, and Elías Razo-Flores
J Chem Technol Biotechnol 2013; 88: 1672–1679 ISSN:1097-4660, 2013.


BACKGROUND: Sulfate-reducing fluidized bed reactors represent an alternative for the treatment of wastewaters that contain dissolved metals.However, the low acetate consumption achieved through sulfate reduction affects the organicmatter removal efficiency. The aim of this present work was to develop a sulfidogenic biofilm able to consume acetate via sulfate reduction within a short start-up period (21 days). Three experiments were conducted in a down-flow fluidized bed reactor with different acetate/lactate proportions in the feed (50/50, 80/20 and 90/10). Reduction of the influent pH from 6.0 to 4.0 was also studied at the higher acetate content. RESULTS: Organic matter oxidation efficiency was similar in the three experiments (?67%), nonetheless the sulfate reduction rate was higher in the experiments with 80 and 90% acetate in the feed (744 and 730mgL?1 d?1). Acetate oxidation via sulfate reduction was highest (39% of inlet) at the ratio 90/10, at which the biofilm specific sulfate reducing activity with acetate was 4.3 times higher than that developed at 50/50. Influent pH reduction to 4.0 was not detrimental to acetate consumption via sulfate reduction, which was 56%. Analysis of the biofilm through DGGE found a similar community in the three experiments and the presence of acetotrophic microorganisms affiliated to Desulfobacca acetoxidans. CONCLUSIONS: Limiting the substrate (lactate) was an appropriate strategy to enrich acetate-consuming sulfate reducers and improve the low acetate removal efficiency that sulfate-reducing reactors face. c 2012 Society of Chemical Industry