Long-term performance evaluation of an anoxic sulfur oxidizing moving bed biofilm reactor under nitrate limited conditions†
An anoxic sulfur-oxidizing moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) treating sulfur and nitrate-contaminated synthetic wastewater was monitored for 306 days under feed nitrogen-to-sulfur (N/S) molar ratios of 0.5, 0.3 and 0.1. Thiosulfate (S2O32−) removal efficiencies (RE) exceeding 98% were observed at a N/S ratio of 0.5 and a S2O32− loading rate of 0.9 g S2O32−–S L−1 d−1, whereas a RE of 82.3 (±2.6)% and 37.7 (±3.4)% were observed at N/S ratios of 0.3 and 0.1, respectively. Complete nitrate (NO3−) removal was obtained at all tested N/S ratios. A comparison of the kinetic parameters of the MBBR biomass under the same stoichiometric conditions (N/S ratio of 0.5) revealed a 1.3-fold increase of the maximum specific rate of S2O32− oxidation (rmax) and a 30-fold increase of the affinity constant for S2O32− (Ks) compared to those observed after long-term NO3− limitation (N/S ratio of 0.1). The MBBR showed optimal resilience to NO3− limitation as the S2O32− RE recovered from 37.3% to 94.1% within two days after increasing the N/S ratio from 0.1 to 0.5. Based on PCR-DGGE analysis, sulfur-oxidizing nitrate-reducing bacteria, i.e. Thiobacillus sp. and Sulfuritalea sp., dominated in the MBBR biofilm during the entire study.
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