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Cycling of Volatile Organic Sulfur Compounds in Anaerobically Digested Biosolids and its Implications for Odors

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The objectives of this research were to elucidate the mechanisms for production and degradation of volatile organic sulfur compounds (VOSCs), key odor causing compounds produced by biosolids. These compounds included methanethiol (MT), dimethyl sulfide (DMS), and dimethyl disulfide (DMDS). A series of experiments were used to probe various pathways hypothesized to produce and degrade these VOSCs. The production of MT was found to mainly occur from degradation of methionine and the methylation of hydrogen sulfide. DMS was formed through the methylation of MT. DMDS was formed by MT oxidation. All three of the VOSCs were readily degraded by methanogens and a cyclic pathway was proposed to describe the production and degradation of VOSCs. The research demonstrated that the main source of VOSCs was the biodegradation of protein within the biosolids and the results provided a framework for understanding the production of odor from anaerobically digested sludges before and after dewatering.

Keywords: biosolids; dimethyl disulfide; dimethyl sulfide; methanethiol; odor; sludges; volatile organic sulfur compounds

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-03-01

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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