Inhibition of sulfate-reducing and methanogenic activities of anaerobic sewer biofilms by ferric iron dosing

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4123-4132
Journal / PublicationWater Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009
Externally publishedYes


Ferric iron is commonly used for sulfide precipitation in sewers, thus achieving corrosion and odour control. Its impact on the activities of sulfate-reducing bacteria and methanogens in anaerobic sewer biofilms is investigated in this study. Two lab-scale rising main sewer systems fed with real sewage were operated for 8 months. One received Fe3+ dosage (experimental system) and the other was used as a control. In addition to precipitating sulfide from bulk water, Fe3+ dosage was found to significantly inhibit sulfate reduction and methane production by sewer biofilms. The experimental reactor discharged an effluent containing a higher concentration of sulfate and a lower concentration of methane in comparison with the reference reactor. Batch experiments showed that the addition of ferric ions reduced the sulfate reduction and methane production rates of the sewer biofilms by 60% and 80%, respectively. The batch experiments further showed that Fe3+ dosage changed the final products of sulfate reduction with sulfide accounting for only 54% of the sulfate reduced. The other products could not be confirmed, but were not dissolved inorganic sulfur species such as sulfite or thiosulfate. The results suggest the addition of Fe3+ at upstream locations would minimize the ferric salts required for achieving the same level of sulfide removal. Fe3+ dosing could also substantially reduce the formation of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in sewers. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Research Area(s)

  • Ferric, Inhibition, Methane, Methanogens, Rising main, Sewer, Sulfate-reducing bacteria, Sulfide

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