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Hydrogen sulfide removal from synthetic biogas using anoxic biofilm reactors

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University
Number of pages187
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2019
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations


The aim of this work was to develop and study anoxic bioreactors for the removal of reduced inorganic sulfur compounds from liquid and gaseous waste streams. In addition, the aim was to enable process integration for the simultaneous treatment of H2S contaminated gas streams and NO3--containing wastewater. The experiments related to sulfide oxidation in the liquid phase were conducted in two different attached growth bioreactors, i.e. a fluidized-bed reactor (FBR) and a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR), inoculated with the same mixed culture of sulfur-oxidizing nitrate-reducing (SO-NR) bacteria. The bioreactors were operated under different nitrogen-to-sulfur (N/S) molar ratios using S2O32- and NO3- as an energy source and electron acceptor, respectively. Results revealed that both the FBR and MBBR achieved S2O32- removal efficiencies (RE) >98% and completely removed NO3- at an N/S ratio of 0.5. Under severe nitrate limitation (N/S ratio of 0.1), the S2O32- RE in the MBBR (37.8%) was higher than that observed in the FBR (26.1%). In addition, the MBBR showed better resilience to nitrate limitation than the FBR as the S2O32- RE was recovered to 94% within 1 day after restoring the feed N/S ratio to 0.5, while it took 3 days to obtain 80% S2O32- RE in the FBR. Artificial neural network models were successfully used to predict the FBR and MBBR performance, i.e. S2O32- and NO3- RE as well as sulfate production. The SO-NR biomass from the MBBR was used to inoculate an anoxic biotrickling filter (BTF), which was studied for simultaneous treatment of H2S and NO3- containing waste streams. In the anoxic BTF, a maximum H2S elimination capacity (EC) of 19.2 g S m-3 h-1 (99% RE) was obtained at an inlet H2S load of 20.0 g S m-3 h-1 (~500 ppmv) and an N/S ratio of ~1.7. As some NO3--containing wastewaters can also contain organic compounds, the anoxic BTF inoculated with Paracoccus versutus strain MAL 1HM19 was studied for the simultaneous treatment of H2S, NO3- and organic carbon containing waste streams. With this BTF, NO3- and acetate removal rates of 16.7 g NO3--N m-3 h-1 and 42.0 g acetate m-3 h-1, respectively, were achieved, which was higher than the values observed in the BTF inoculated with the mixed culture of autotrophic SO-NR bacteria (11.1 g NO3--N m-3 h-1 and 10.2 g acetate m-3 h-1). Anoxic BTFs were operated under several transient conditions (i.e. varied gas and trickling liquid flow rates, intermittent NO3- supply and H2S shock loads) to evaluate the impacts of sudden changes that usually occur in practical applications. The different transient conditions significantly affected the H2S EC of the anoxic BTF. After applying H2S shock loads, the H2S RE fully recovered to >99% within 1.7 days after resuming normal operation. In summary, the MBBR was more effective for the removal of S2O32- than the FBR, especially under nitrate limited conditions. Based on the short recovery times after exposure to transient-state conditions, the anoxic MBBR and BTF were found to be resilient and robust systems for removal of reduced sulfur compounds under autotrophic and mixotrophic conditions.

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