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Sulfide toxicity in anaerobic systems fed sulfate and various organics

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Upflow anaerobic filters fed acetate and propionate, and completely mixed, suspended growth reactors fed acetate, propionate, lactate, and glucose were used to investigate the effect of electron donor and reactor type on the interaction between sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and methanogens. Organic loading rates of 0.25–0.50 g chemical oxygen demand (COD)/L · d were used in suspended growth systems and 1.0–5.0 g COD/L · d in filters. COD/sulfur ratios ranged from 20/1 to 2/1 for completely mixed reactors, and 20/1 to 8/1 for anaerobic filters. Results indicated that organisms involved in the conversion of lactate and glucose into simpler products were not affected by sulfide toxicity. Levels of 60–75 mg sulfur/L of hydrogen sulfide and 150–200 mg/L of dissolved sulfide (DS) caused stress in all suspended growth reactors; 100–150 mg sulfur/L of hydrogen sulfide and 200–400 mg DS/L could be tolerated in lactate and glucose systems, although with diminished COD and sulfate removal. For similar loading conditions, lactate and glucose systems had higher DS levels than acetate and propionate systems. A cyclic pattern of variation of DS and hydrogen sulfide with volatile-acids COD (VACOD) was observed in long-term experiments with suspended growth reactors. Anaerobic filters were able to tolerate higher DS and hydrogen sulfide levels than suspended growth reactors. A propionate-fed filter could withstand more than 150 mg hydrogen sulfide/L of hydrogen sulfide and 1000 mg DS/L, and an acetate-fed filter could tolerate more than 125 mg sulfur/L of hydrogen sulfide and 400 mg DS/L.
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Keywords: anaerobic processes; sulfate reduction; sulfide toxicity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 1993

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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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