Sci. Total Environ. 745 (-) 141017 [2020-11-25; online 2020-07-22]
Biological sulfate and thiosulfate reduction under haloalkaline conditions can be applied to treat waste streams from biodesulfurization systems. However, the lack of microbial aggregation under haloalkaline conditions limits the volumetric rates of sulfate and thiosulfate reducing bioreactors. As biomass retention in haloalkaline bioreactors has not been studied before, sand was chosen as a biomass carrier material to increase cell retention and consequently raise the volumetric rates. The results showed that ~10 fold higher biomass concentrations could be achieved with sand, compared to previous studies without carrier addition. The volumetric rates of sulfate/thiosulfate reduction increased approximately 4.5 times. Biomass attachment to the sand was restricted to cavities within the sand particles. Acetate produced by acetogenic bacteria from H2 and CO2 was used as carbon source for biomass growth, while formate that was also produced from H2 and CO2 enhanced sulfate reduction. The microbial community composition was analyzed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, and Tindallia related bacteria were probably responsible for formate formation from hydrogen. The community attached to the sand particles was similar to the suspended fraction, but the relative abundance of sequences most closely related to Desulfohalobiaceae was much higher in the attached fraction compared to the suspended fraction (30% and 13%, respectively). The results indicated that even though the biomass attachment to sand was poor, it still increased the biomass concentration and consequently the sulfate and thiosulfate reduction volumetric rates.