Evaluating enhanced sulfate reduction and optimized volatile fatty acids (VFA) composition in anaerobic reactor by Fe (III) addition

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Journal Article
Environmental Science and Technology, 2015, 49 (4), pp. 2123 - 2131
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© 2015 American Chemical Society. Anaerobic reactors with ferric iron addition have been experimentally demonstrated to be able to simultaneously improve sulfate reduction and organic matter degradation during sulfate-containing wastewater treatment. In this work, a mathematical model is developed to evaluate the impact of ferric iron addition on sulfate reduction and organic carbon removal as well as the volatile fatty acids (VFA) composition in anaerobic reactor. The model is successfully calibrated and validated using independent long-term experimental data sets from the anaerobic reactor with Fe (III) addition under different operational conditions. The model satisfactorily describes the sulfate reduction, organic carbon removal and VFA production. Results show Fe (III) addition induces the microbial reduction of Fe (III) by iron reducing bacteria (IRB), which significantly enhances sulfate reduction by sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) and subsequently changes the VFA composition to acetate-dominating effluent. Simultaneously, the produced Fe (II) from IRB can alleviate the inhibition of undissociated H2S on microorganisms through iron sulfide precipitation, resulting in further improvement of the performance. In addition, the enhancement on reactor performance by Fe (III) is found to be more significantly favored at relatively low organic carbon/SO42- ratio (e.g., 1.0) than at high organic carbon/SO42- ratio (e.g., 4.5). The Fe (III)-based process of this work can be easily integrated with a commonly used strategy for phosphorus recovery, with the produced sulfide being recovered and then deposited into conventional chemical phosphorus removal sludge (FePO4) to achieve FeS precipitation for phosphorus recovery while the required Fe (III) being acquired from the waste ferric sludge of drinking water treatment process, to enable maximum resource recovery/reuse while achieving high-rate sulfate removal.
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