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Odors produced from biosolids has become an increasing problem and often cited as a significant concern of many treatment plant operations. Recent research has shown that most odors are associated with volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), especially methanethiol (MT), dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and dimethyl disulfide (DMDS); however, little research has been performed to understand the mechanisms of VSC production from biosolids. The objectives of this research were to determine the mechanisms and pathways of VSC production from biosolids in order to provide a foundation for the development of odor control management strategies. The research examined the different pathways of VSC production using selective chemical addition and selective microbial inhibition. VSCs were measured in headspace samples of biosolids. The results of this research demonstrated that amino acid degradation, especially methionine and to a lesser extent cysteine, are the primary substrate for MT and H2S production, respectively. Both H2S and MT can be methylated in sequential steps to form MT and DMS, respectively. The formation of DMDS is through an abiotic reaction in which MT is oxidized to form DMDS and water. In addition, methanogenic bacteria play an important role in the cycling of VSCs in that they can degrade MT, DMS and DMDS. Results showed inhibition of methanogens greatly increased the production of these compounds. These results can be applied to understand the factors that affect VSC production from different processes such as dewatering and conveyance.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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