Microbial sulfate reduction under sequentially acidic conditions in an upflow anaerobic packed bed bioreactor

T Jong, David Parry

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    The aim of this study was to operate an upflow anaerobic packed bed reactor (UAPB) containing sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) under acidic conditions similar to those found in acid mine drainage (AMD). The UAPB was filled with sand and operated under continuous flow at progressively lower pH and was shown to be capable of supporting sulfate reduction at pH values of 6.0, 5.0, 4.5, 4.0 and 3.5 in a synthetic medium containing 53.5 mmol l-1 lactate. Sulfate reduction rates of 553-1052 mmol m-3 d-1 were obtained when the influent solution pH was progressively lowered from pH 6.0 to 4.0, under an optimal flow rate of 2.61 ml min-1. When the influent pH was further lowered to pH 3.5, sulfate reduction was substantially reduced with only about 1% sulfate removed at a rate of 3.35 mmol m-3 d-1 after 20 days of operation. However, viable SRB were recovered from the column, indicating that the SRB population was capable of surviving and metabolizing at low levels even at pH 3.5 conditions for at least 20 days. The changes in conductivity in the SRB column did not always occur with changes in pH and redox potential, suggesting that conductivity measurements may be more sensitive to SRB activity and could be used as an additional tool for monitoring SRB activity. The bioreactor containing SRB was able to reduce sulfate and generate alkalinity even when challenged with influent as low as pH 3.5, indicating that such treatment systems have potential for bioremediating highly acidic, sulfate contaminated waste waters. � 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2561-2571
    Number of pages11
    JournalWater Research
    Issue number13
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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