Microbial community analysis in the autotrophic denitrification process using spent sulfidic caustic by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of PCR-amplified genes

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Spent sulfidic caustic (SSC) produced from petrochemical plants contains a high concentration of hydrogen sulfide and alkalinity, and some almost non-biodegradable organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX). SSC is mainly incinerated with auxiliary fuel, leading to secondary pollution problems. The reuse of this waste is becoming increasingly important from economic and environmental viewpoints. To denitrify wastewater with low COD/N ratio, additional carbon sources are required. Thus, autotrophic denitrification has attracted increasing attention. In this study, SSC was injected as an electron donor for sulfur-based autotrophic denitrification in the modified Ludzack-Ettinger (MLE) process. The efficiencies of nitrification, COD, and total nitrogen (TN) removal were evaluated with varying SSC dosage. Adequate SSC injection exhibited stable autotrophic denitrification. No BTEX were detected in the monitored BTEX concentrations of the effluent. To analyse the microbial community of the MLE process, PCR-DGGE based on 16 S rDNA with EUB primers, TD primers and nirK gene with nirK primers was performed in order to elucidate the application of the MLE process to SSC.

Keywords: autotrophic denitrification, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction, spent sulfidic caustic, Thiobacillus denitrificans

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