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Journal Article

Sulfide-induced nitrate reduction in the sludge of an anaerobic digester of a zero-discharge recirculating mariculture system


Schwermer,  C. U.
Permanent Research Group Microsensor, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Sher, Y., Schneider, K., Schwermer, C. U., & van Rijn, J. (2008). Sulfide-induced nitrate reduction in the sludge of an anaerobic digester of a zero-discharge recirculating mariculture system. Water Research, 42(16), 4386-4392.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-CD2A-A
The anaerobic digester is a vital component in a zero-discharge mariculture system as therein most of the organic matter is mineralized and nitrogen-containing compounds are converted to gaseous N(2). Although denitrification is a major respiratory process in this nitrate-rich treatment stage, also sulfate respiration takes place and may cause undesirable high sulfide concentrations in the effluent water. To examine the effect of sulfide on nitrate reduction, in situ depth profiles of inorganic nitrogen and sulfur compounds were determined. Additionally, nitrate reduction was examined as a function of ambient sulfide concentrations in sludge collected from different locations in the anaerobic reactor. Depth profiles showed high concentrations of nitrate and low concentrations of sulfide and ammonia in the aqueous layer of the reactor. A sharp decrease of nitrate and an increase in sulfide and ammonia concentrations was measured at the water-sludge interface. Nitrate reduction was highest in this interface zone with rates of up to 8.05+/-0.57 micromol NO(3)(-)h(-1)g((sludge))(-1). Addition of sulfide increased the nitrate reduction rate at all sludge depths, pointing to the important role of autotrophic denitrification in the anaerobic reactor. Dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia (DNRA) was found to be low in all sludge layers but was enhanced when sludge was incubated at high sulfide concentrations. Although nitrate reduction rates increased as a result of sulfide addition to sludge samples, no differences in nitrate reduction rates were observed between the samples incubated with different initial sulfide concentrations. This as opposed to sulfide oxidation rates, which followed Michaelis-Menten enzymatic kinetics. Partial oxidation of sulfide to elemental sulfur instead of a complete oxidation to sulfate, could explain the observed patterns of nitrate reduction and sulfide oxidation in sludge incubated with different initial sulfide concentrations.