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Effect of liquid surface area on hydrogen sulfide oxidation during micro-aeration in dairy manure digesters

Walter Mulbry, Kaitlyn Selmer, Stephanie Lansing
Plos One 2017 v.12 no.10 pp. e0185738
aeration, bacteria, biofilm, biogas, bioreactors, chemical treatment, dairy manure, desulfurization, headspace analysis, hydrogen sulfide, labor, liquids, methane production, microbial growth, oxidation, oxygen, surface area
Although there are a variety of commercially available biological and chemical treatments for removal of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from biogas, managing biogas H2S remains a significant challenge for agricultural digesters where labor and operational funds are very limited compared to municipal and industrial digesters. The objectives of this study were to evaluate headspace aeration for reducing H2S levels in low cost plug flow digesters and to characterize the relationship between the liquid surface area and H2S oxidation rates. Experiments with replicate field scale plug flow digesters showed that H2S levels decreased from 3500 ppmv to <100 ppmv when headspace oxygen levels were 0.5 to 1%. Methane production was not affected by aeration rates that resulted in headspace oxygen levels of up to 1%. Pilot scale experiments using 65 to 104 L desulfurization units showed that H2S oxidation rates increased with increases in liquid surface area. These results support the hypothesis that H2S oxidation rates are limited, in part, by the surface area available for oxygen transfer, and can be increased by growth of biofilms containing H2S oxidizing bacteria. Maximum removal rates corresponded to 40 to 100 g S m-2 d-1 of liquid surface area at biogas retention times of 30 to 40 min.