Removing organic matter from sulfate-rich wastewater via sulfidogenic and methanogenic pathways

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The simultaneous organic matter removal and sulfate reduction in synthetic sulfate-rich wastewater was evaluated for various chemical oxygen demand (COD)/sulfate ratios applied in a horizontal-flow anaerobic immobilized sludge (HAIS) reactor. At higher COD/sulfate ratios (12.5 and 7.5), the removal of organic matter was stable, likely due to methanogenesis. A combination of sulfate reduction and methanogenesis was clearly established at COD/sulfate ratios of 3.0 and 1.9. At a COD/sulfate ratio of 1.0, the organic matter removal was likely influenced by methanogenesis inhibition. The quantity of sulfate removed at a COD/sulfate ratio of 1.0 was identical to that obtained at a ratio of 1.9, indicating a lack of available electron donors for sulfidogenesis. The sulfate reduction and organic matter removal were not maximized at the same COD/sulfate ratio; therefore, competitive inhibition must be the predominant mechanism in establishing an electron flow.

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