Abstract

Two bioreactors were investigated as an alternative to post-treatment of effluent from an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor treating domestic sewage, with an aim of oxidizing sulfide into elemental sulfur, and removal of solid and organic material. The bioreactors were operated at different hydraulic retention times (HRTs) (6, 4, and 2 h) and in the presence or absence (control) of packing material (polypropylene rings). Greater sulfide removal efficiencies – 75% (control reactor) and 92% (packed reactor) – were achieved in both reactors for an HRT of 6 h. Higher organic matter (COD) and solid (TSS) removal levels were observed in the packed reactor, which produced effluent with low COD (100 mg CODL−1) and TSS concentrations (30 mg TSSL−1). Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis results revealed that a metabolically diverse bacterial community was present in both bioreactors, with sequences related to heterotrophic bacteria, sulfur bacteria (Thiocapsa, Sulfurimonas sp., Chlorobaculum sp., Chromatiales and Sulfuricellales), phototrophic purple non-sulfur bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas, Rhodocyclus sp.) and cyanobacteria. The packed reactor presented higher extracellular sulfur formation and potential for elemental sulfur recovery was seen. Higher efficiencies related to the packed reactor were attributed to the presence of packing material and higher cell retention time. The studied bioreactors seemed to be a simple and low-cost alternative for the post-treatment of anaerobic effluent.

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