The effect of the quaternary ammonium compound, didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC), on nitrate reduction was investigated at concentrations up to 100 mg/L in a batch assay using a mixed, mesophilic (35°C) methanogenic culture. Glucose was used as the carbon and energy source and the initial nitrate concentration was 70 mg N/L. Dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia (DNRA) and to dinitrogen (denitrification) were observed at DDAC concentrations up to 25 mg/L. At and above 50 mg DDAC/L, DNRA was inhibited and denitrification was incomplete resulting in accumulation of nitrous oxide. At DDAC concentrations above 10 mg/L, production of nitrous oxide, even transiently, resulted in complete, long-term inhibition of methanogenesis and accumulation of volatile fatty acids. Fermentation was inhibited at and above 75 mg DDAC/L. DDAC suppressed microbial growth and caused cell lysis at a concentration 50 mg/L or higher. Most of the added DDAC was adsorbed on the biomass. Over 96% of the added DDAC was recovered from all cultures at the end of the 100-days incubation period, indicating that DDAC did not degrade in the mixed methanogenic culture under the conditions of this study.

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