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Inhibition of sulfide on the simultaneous removal of nitrate and p-cresol by a denitrifying sludge

Meza-Escalante, Edna R., Texier, Anne-Claire, Cuervo-López, Flor, Gómez, Jorge, Cervantes, Francisco J.
Journal of chemical technology and biotechnology 2008 v.83 no.3 pp. 372-377
denitrification, nitrates, nitrites, nitrogen, p-cresol, pollutants, respiratory rate, sludge
BACKGROUND: Many industrial discharges, such as those generated from petrochemical refineries, contain large amounts of sulfurous, nitrogenous and organic contaminants. Denitrification has emerged as a suitable technology for the simultaneous removal of these pollutants in a single reactor unit; however, more evidence is demanded to clarify the limitations of denitrification on the simultaneous removal of sulfide and phenolic contaminants and to optimize the biological process. The aim of this study was to evaluate the capacity of a denitrifying sludge to simultaneously convert sulfide and p-cresol via denitrification.RESULTS: Sulfide was the preferred electron donor over p-cresol, imposing a 5 h lag phase (required for complete sulfide removal) on organotrophic denitrification. Addition of sulfide (20 mg S²⁻ L⁻¹) to p-cresol-amended denitrifying cultures also decreased the reduction rate of nitrate and nitrite, as well as the production rate of nitrogen gas. Nitrite reduction rate was the most affected step by sulfide, decreasing from 35 to 21 mg N (g VSS d)⁻¹. A synergistic inhibitory effect of nitrate and sulfide was also observed on nitrite reduction. Despite the effects of sulfide on the respiratory rates monitored, complete removal of nitrate, sulfide and p-cresol could be achieved after 48 h of incubation.CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that simultaneous removal of sulfide and p-cresol could be achieved in denitrifying reactors, but a large hydraulic residence time may be required to sustain an efficient process due to inhibitory effects of sulfide.