Anaerobic methanethiol degradation and methanogenic community analysis in an alkaline (pH 10) biological process for liquefied petroleum gas desulfurization

R.C. van Leerdam, M. Bonilla-Salinas, F.A.M. de Bok, H. Bruning, P.N.L. Lens, A.J.M. Stams, A.J.H. Janssen

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18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anaerobic methanethiol (MT) degradation by mesophilic (30 degrees C) alkaliphilic (pH 10) communities was studied in a lab-scale Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (UASB) reactor inoculated with a mixture of sediments from the Wadden Sea (The Netherlands), Soap Lake (Central Washington), and Russian soda lakes. MT degradation started after 32 days of incubation. During the first 252 days, complete degradation was achieved till a volumetric loading rate of 7.5 mmol MT/L/day, and sulfide, methane, and carbon dioxide were the main reaction products. Temporary inhibition of MT degradation occurred after MT peak loads and in the presence of dimethyl disulfide (DMDS), which is the autooxidation product of MT. From day 252 onwards, methanol was dosed to the reactor as co-substrate at a loading rate of 3-6 mmol/L/day to stimulate growth of methylotrophic methanogens. Methanol was completely degraded and also a complete MT degradation was achieved till a volumetric loading rate of 13 mmol MT/L/day (0.77 mmol MT/gVSS/day). However, from day 354 till the end of the experimental run (day 365), acetate was formed and MT was not completely degraded anymore, indicating that methanol-degrading homoacetogenic bacteria had partially outcompeted the methanogenic MT-degrading archea. The archeal community in the reactor sludge was analyzed by DGGE and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. The methanogenic archea responsible for the degradation of MT in the reactor were related to Methanolobus oregonensis. A pure culture, named strain SODA, was obtained by serial dilutions in medium containing both trimethyl amine and dimethyl sulfide (DMS). Strain SODA degraded MT, DMS, trimethyl amine, and methanol. Flow sheet simulations revealed that for sufficient MT removal from liquefied petroleum gas, the extraction and biological degradation process should be operated above pH 9.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-701
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Volume101
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • organic sulfur-compounds
  • sludge-blanket reactor
  • methylotrophic methanogen
  • oxidizing bacteria
  • sulfide oxidation
  • soda lakes
  • sp-nov
  • sediments
  • dimethylsulfide
  • bioreactor

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