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Thiosulfate Conversion to Sulfide by a Haloalkaliphilic Microbial Community in a Bioreactor Fed with H2 Gas

Sousa, João A. B., Bijmans, Martijn F. M., Stams, Alfons J. M., Plugge, Caroline M.
Environmental Science & Technology 2017 v.51 no.2 pp. 914-923
Tindallia, bacteria, bioreactors, formates, hydrogen, microbial communities, pH, phylogeny, recycling, sulfates, sulfides, thiosulfates
In industrial gas biodesulfurization systems, where haloalkaline conditions prevail, a thiosulfate containing bleed stream is produced. This bleed stream can be treated in a separate bioreactor by reducing thiosulfate to sulfide and recycling it. By performing treatment and recycling of the bleed stream, its disposal decreases and less caustics are required to maintain the high pH. In this study, anaerobic microbial thiosulfate conversion to sulfide in a H₂/CO₂ fed bioreactor operated at haloalkaline conditions was investigated. Thiosulfate was converted by reduction to sulfide as well as disproportionation to sulfide and sulfate. Formate production from H₂/CO₂ was observed as an important reaction in the bioreactor. Formate, rather than H₂, might have been used as the main electron donor by thiosulfate/sulfate-reducing bacteria. The microbial community was dominated by bacteria belonging to the family Clostridiaceae most closely related to Tindallia texcoconensis. Bacteria phylogenetically related to known haloalkaline sulfate and thiosulfate reducers, thiosulfate-disproportionating bacteria, and remarkably sulfur-oxidizing bacteria were also detected. On the basis of the results, two approaches to treat the biodesulfurization waste stream are proposed: (i) addition of electron donor to reduce thiosulfate to sulfide and (ii) thiosulfate disproportionation without the need for an electron donor. The concept of application of solely thiosulfate disproportionation is discussed.