Anaerobic methanogenic consortia have a considerable resistance to oxygen exposure. Yet, most research has been focused on the study of the tolerance to oxygen of anaerobic immobilized biomass. Less is known on the potential of the anaerobic suspended biomass for withstanding exposure to oxygen and the effect of a primary degradable substrate on such resistance. Thus, the objective of this work was to determine the effect of the amount of a primary degradable substrate (sucrose) on the resistance of a methanogenic suspended biomass to oxygen exposure. It was found that the inhibition of disperse anaerobic sludge by oxygen exposure decreases when the concentration of the supplemented carbon source increases. This is in agreement with the fact that aerobic respiration of the added substrate by the facultative heterotrophic bacteria, always present in this type of sludge, has been found in previous studies as one of the main mechanisms protecting methanogens against O2. From a practical point of view, this suggests that aeration of anaerobic systems should be possible without inhibiting the activity of methanogenic bacteria if an adequate ratio between oxygen and COD feeding is maintained. Such a ratio will depend however on the wastewater initial COD concentration.

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