Rational immobilization of methanogens in high cell density bioreactors
Production of hydrogen sulphide by sulphate reducing bacteria (SRB) is a serious problem in anaerobic wastewater treatment, because it causes corrosion and reduces the value of methane in the biogas produced. The surface and adhesion characteristics of SRB as measured through the zeta potential are different from those of methanogens. We therefore tested the hypothesis that by choosing a carrier material with the proper surface characteristics (zeta potential) it should be possible to selectively immobilize methanogens while excluding SRB. In a series of batch tests with different support materials complete elimination of SRB was obtained on supports made of nylon, a result in line with our original hypothesis. Maximum preferential immobilization of methanogens was obtained at a temperature of 37 °C with media containing volatile fatty acids (VFA) as the carbon source. Preferential immobilization of methanogens was achieved in an anaerobic fluidized bed reactor (AFBR) with nylon granules as support and in an anaerobic rotating biological contactor (ARBC) with an acrylic disc as support. H2S-free biogas containing 63% and 38% methane were obtained from the AFBR and ARBC, respectively.