Sulphate can be removed from wastewater by means of biological anaerobic reduction to sulphide. The reduction requires the presence of a substrate that can serve as an electron donor. Methanol is a suitable electron donor for sulphate reduction under thermophilic conditions. In an anaerobic system containing methanol and sulphate, acetogenic bacteria (AB) and methanogenic archaea (MA) compete with sulphate reducing bacteria (SRB) for methanol or its degradation intermediates. Previously obtained results indicate that at 65°C SRB and MA mainly compete for the intermediate hydrogen instead of methanol. For efficient use of methanol as electron donor for sulphate reduction it is important that for the treatment of sulphate wastewater in an anaerobic reactor SRB out-compete MA. The mechanisms that determine the outcome of the competition are, however, not well understood. This paper describes a model based on growth kinetics of methanol-oxidising AB, and hydrogen-consuming SRB and MA, that can describe the competition between SRB and MA in a methanol-fed bioreactor. We present the model and its calibration using experimental data, and we discuss its shortcomings and suggest possible improvements.

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