An integrated anaerobic–aerobic treatment system of sulphate-laden wastewater was proposed here to achieve low sludge production, low energy consumption and effective sulphide control. Before integrating the whole system, the feasibility of autotrophic denitrification utilising dissolved sulphide produced during anaerobic treatment of sulphate rich wastewater was studied here. An upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor was operated to treat sulphate-rich synthetic wastewater (TOC = 100 mg/L and sulphate = 500 mg/L) and its effluent with dissolved sulphide and external nitrate solution were fed into an anoxic biofilter. The anaerobic reactor was able to remove 77–85% of TOC at HRT of 3 h and produce 70–90 mg S/L sulphide in dissolved form for the subsequent denitrification. The performance of anoxic reactor was stable, and the anoxic reactor could remove 30 mg N/L nitrate at HRT of 2 h through autotrophic denitrification. Furthermore, sulphur balance for the anoxic filter showed that more than 90% of the removed sulphide was actually oxidised into sulphate, thereby there was no accumulation of sulphur particles in the filter bed. The net sludge productions were approximately 0.15 to 0.18 g VSS/g COD in the anaerobic reactor and 0.22 to 0.31 g VSS/g NO3-N in the anoxic reactor. The findings in this study will be helpful in developing the integrated treatment system to achieve low-cost excess sludge minimisation.

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