Sewage plants can experience dimethyl sulphide (DMS) odour problems by at least one mg/L dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) waste residue in plant influent, through a DMSO/DMS reduction mechanism. This bench-scale batch study simulates in bottles the role of poor aeration in wastewater treatment on the DMSO/DMS and sulphate/H2S reduction. The study compares headspace concentrations of sulphide odorants developed by activated sludge (closed bottles, half full) after six hours under anoxic versus anaerobic conditions, with 0 versus 2 mg/L DMSO addition. Anoxic sludge (0.1–2 mg/L dissolved oxygen, DO) with DMSO resulted in about 50 ppmv DMS and no other sulphide, while DMSO-free sludge was free of detectable sulphides. Anaerobic sludge (no measurable DO to the point of sulphate reduction) with DMSO resulted in 22/4/37 ppmv of H2S/methanethiol (MT)/DMS, while DMSO-free sludge resulted in 44/8/2 ppmv of H2S/MT/DMS. It is concluded that common “anoxic” aeration tank zones with measurable DO in bulk water but immeasurable DO inside sludge flocs (nitrate reducing) experience DMSO reduction to DMS that is oxidation resistant and becomes the most important odorant. Under anaerobic conditions, H2S from sulphate reduction becomes an additional important odorant. A strategy is developed that allows operators to determine from the quantity of different sulphides whether the DMSO/DMS mechanism is important at their wastewater plant.

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