Nonionic surfactants are used worldwide in various industrial and household applications. Since these compounds are used in aqueous solutions, they primarily enter the environment through sewage and industrial wastewater treatment plants. The objective of this work was to evaluate the inhibitory effect of Triton X-100, a commercial nonionic surfactant, on the anaerobic digestion of lactose. Thus non-ionic surfactants acts as a non-competitive inhibitor with KI = 250 mgL−1 and a inhibition order of 2.4.
Nonetheless if give enough time the sludge was able to degrade 79% of Triton at 0.1 gL−1 d−1 in a UASB reactor. An activity test of this sludge showed that Triton inhibited the acetogenic (both propionic and butyric) and acetoclastic activities, while there were high fermentative and hydrogenotrophic activities (80% and 95%, respectively).