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Feasibility of anaerobic packed and structured-bed reactors for sulfamethoxazole and ciprofloxacin removal from domestic sewage

Carneiro, Rodrigo B., Sabatini, Carolina A., Santos-Neto, Álvaro J., Zaiat, Marcelo
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.678 pp. 419-429
antibiotics, bacteria, biodegradation, biomass, bioreactors, ciprofloxacin, drugs, kinetics, resistance genes, sewage, sewage treatment, sorption, sulfamethoxazole
This study assessed the applicability of fixed bed bioreactors in two configurations - anaerobic structured bed reactor (ASBR) and anaerobic packed bed reactor (APBR) - in the removal of Sulfamethoxazole (SMX) and Ciprofloxacin (CIP), two antibiotics frequently detected in sanitary sewage. The problem of these pharmaceuticals as emerging contaminants in conventional sewage treatment systems is mainly because they encourage the development and spread of resistance genes in bacteria. Both reactors had similar performances, and the antibiotics were highly removed - APBR: 85 ± 10% for SMX and 81 ± 16% for CIP; ASBR: 83 ± 12% for SMX and 81 ± 15% for CIP. The ASBR showed to be potentially more feasible in operating and economic terms compared to the APBR, as the former presents a smaller amount of support material in the bed. SMX was completely biotransformed, while the influence of the sorption mechanism was observed for CIP, as its presence was detected sorbed onto biomass throughout the reaction bed of the reactors, with a partition coefficient (log KD) of around 2.8 L·kg−1TSS. The degradation kinetics of the pharmaceuticals were fitted using a first-order kinetic model, whereby the reactors behaved as plug flow ones, indicating the possibility of optimizing the operation for a hydraulic retention time of 6 h. The removal kinetics was more favorable for CIP (higher apparent constant kinetic - kCIPapp > kSMXapp), since its biodegradation is linked to the biomass, which is more concentrated in the bed bottom layer. The experimental results showed the potential of anaerobic fixed bed reactors in removing environmentally relevant concentrations of SMX and CIP found in sewage.