Implications of volatile fatty acid profile on the metabolic pathway during continuous sulfate reduction

Journal of Environmental Management
Sueli M BertolinoV A Leão


Volatile fatty acid (VFA) profile is an important parameter in anaerobic reactors because it enables the assessment of metabolic pathways. Volatile fatty acids were monitored during sulfate reduction in a UASB (upflow anaerobic sludge blanket) reactor treating 2g/L sulfate concentration and with the organic loading increasing from 3.5 kg COD/m(3)d to 5.9 kg COD/m(3)d, for a 1-day residence time. In the absence of recirculation, the best outcome (65% reduction) was noticed with the lowest organic loading (3.55 kg/m(3)d). When recirculation was applied, sulfate reduction yields increased to 89%, corresponding to a sulfate removal rate of 1.94 kg SO(4)(2-)/m(3)d. The reactor performance was discussed in relation to microbial diversity and metabolic pathways. At high organic loading, two metabolic pathways account for lactate degradation: (i) lactate is oxidized to acetate and carbon dioxide by the incomplete-oxidizer SRB (sulfate-reducing bacteria) Desulfomonas, Desulfovibrio, Desulfolobus, Desulfobulbus and Desulfotomaculum spp.; (ii) lactate is converted to acetate by fermenting bacteria such as Clostridium sp. High propionate concentrations imply that there are low sulfate reduction efficiencies.


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