Modelling cometabolic biotransformation of sulfamethoxazole by an enriched ammonia oxidizing bacteria culture

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Journal Article
Chemical Engineering Science, 2017, 173 pp. 465 - 473
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Antibiotics such as sulfamethoxazole (SFX) are environmentally hazardous after being released into the aquatic environment and challenges remain in the development of engineered prevention strategies. In this work, a mathematical model was developed to describe and evaluate cometabolic biotransformation of SFX and its transformation products (TPs) in an enriched ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) culture. The growth-linked cometabolic biodegradation by AOB, non-growth transformation by AOB and non-growth transformation by heterotrophs were considered in the model framework. The production of major TPs comprising 4-Nitro-SFX, Desamino-SFX and N4-Acetyl-SFX was also specifically modelled. The validity of the model was demonstrated through testing against literature reported data from extensive batch tests, as well as from long-term experiments in a partial nitritation sequencing batch reactor (SBR) and in a combined SBR + membrane aerated biofilm reactor performing nitrification/denitrification. Modelling results revealed that the removal efficiency of SFX increased with the increase of influent ammonium concentration, whereas the influent organic matter, hydraulic retention time and solid retention time exerted a limited effect on SFX biodegradation with the removal efficiencies varying in a narrow range. The variation of influent SFX concentration had no impact on SFX removal efficiency. The established model framework enables interpretation of a range of experimental observations on SFX biodegradation and helps to identify the optimal conditions for efficient removal.
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