Development of a novel Process for the Biological conversion of H2S and Methanethiol to Elemental Sulfur

J. Sipma, A.J.H. Janssen, L.W. Hulshoff Pol, G. Lettinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The feasibility of anaerobic treatment of wastewater containing methanethiol (MT), an extremely volatile and malodorous sulfur compound, was investigated in lab-scale bioreactors. Inoculum biomass originating from full-scale anaerobic wastewater treatment facilities was used. Several sludges were tested for their ability to degrade MT
The feasibility of anaerobic treatment of wastewater containing methanethiol (MT), an extremely volatile and malodorous sulfur compound, was investigated in lab-scale bioreactors. Inoculum biomass originating from full-scale anaerobic wastewater treatment facilities was used. Several sludges, tested for their ability to degrade MT, revealed the presence of organisms capable of metabolizing MT as their sole source of energy. Furthermore, batch tests were executed to gain a better understanding of the inhibition potential of MT. It was found that increasing MT concentrations affected acetotrophic organisms more dramatically than methylotrophic organisms. Continuous reactor experiments, using two lab-scale upflow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactors (R1 and R2), aimed to determine the maximal MT load and the effect of elevated sulfide concentrations on MT conversion. Both reactors were operated at a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of about 7 hours, a temperature of 30degreesC, and a pH of between 7.3 and 7.6. At the highest influent MT concentration applied, 14 mM in R1, corresponding to a volumetric loading rate of about 50 mM MT per day, 87% of the organic sulfur was recovered as hydrogen sulfide (12.2 mM) and the remainder as volatile organic sulfur compounds (VOSCs). Upon decreasing the HRT to 3.5 to 4.0 h at a constant MT loading rate, the sulfide concentration in the reactor decreased to 8 mM and MT conversion efficiency increased to values near 100%. MT conversion was apparently inhibited by the high sulfide concentrations in the reactor. The specific MT degradation rate, as determined after 120 days of operation in R1, was 2.83 +/- 0.27 mmol MT g VSS-1 day(-1). During biological desulfurization of liquid hydrocarbon phases, such as with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the combined removal of hydrogen sulfide and MT is desired. In R2, the simultaneous addition of sodium sulfide and MT was therefore studied and the effect of elevated sulfide concentrations was investigated. The addition of sodium sulfide resulted in enhanced disintegration of sludge granules, causing significant washout of biomass. Additional acetate, added to stimulate growth of methanogenic bacteria to promote granulation, was hardly converted at the termination of the experimental period. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Volume82
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • waste water treatment
  • anaerobic treatment
  • sulfur
  • sewage effluent
  • sludges
  • methanol
  • reduction
  • bioreactors
  • granular sludge reactor
  • methylotrophic methanogen
  • sp-nov
  • waste-water
  • estuarine methanogen
  • sulfide
  • degradation
  • sediments
  • dimethylsulfide
  • bacterium

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