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Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 2, pp 927–937 | Cite as

Bioaugmentation of anaerobic sludge digestion with iron-reducing bacteria: process and microbial responses to variations in hydraulic retention time

  • Gahyun Baek
  • Jaai Kim
  • Seung Gu Shin
  • Changsoo LeeEmail author
Environmental biotechnology

Abstract

Although anaerobic digestion (AD) is a widely used option to manage waste activated sludge (WAS), there are some drawbacks related to its slow reaction rate and low energy productivity. This study examined an anaerobic WAS digester, augmented with an iron-reducing microbial consortium, relative to changes in microbial community structure and process performance at decreasing hydraulic retention times (HRTs) of 20 to 10 days. The enhanced methanation performance (approximately 40 % increase in methane yield) by the bioaugmentation was sustained until the HRT was decreased to 12.5 days, under Fe3+-rich conditions (ferric oxyhydroxide, 20 mM Fe). Enhanced iron-reducing activity was evidenced by the increased Fe2+ to total Fe ratio maintained above 50 % during the stable operational phases. A further decrease in HRT to 10 days resulted in a significant performance deterioration, along with a drop in the Fe2+ to total Fe ratio to <35 %, after four turnovers of operation. Prevailing existence of putative iron-reducing bacteria (IRBs) was identified by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), with Spirochaetaceae- and Thauera-related organisms being dominant members, and clear dominance shifts among them with respect to decrease in HRT were observed. Lowering HRT led to evident shifts in bacterial community structure likely associated with washout of IRBs, leading to decreases in iron respiration activity and AD performance at a lower HRT. The bacterial community structure shifted dynamically over phases, and the community transitions correlated well with the changes in process performance. Overall, the combined biostimulation and bioaugmentation investigated in this study proved effective for enhanced methane recovery from anaerobic WAS digestion, which suggests an interesting potential for high-rate AD.

Keywords

Anaerobic digestion Bioaugmentation Ferric oxyhydroxide Iron-reducing bacteria Microbial community structure 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) through Basic Science Research Program (2014R1A1A1002329) granted by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning and also through International Cooperation Program managed by NRF (2013K2A1A2054369). The authors are also grateful for the support of Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) through a Waste-to-Energy Human Resource Development Project.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.

Ethical statement

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gahyun Baek
    • 1
  • Jaai Kim
    • 1
  • Seung Gu Shin
    • 2
  • Changsoo Lee
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Urban and Environmental EngineeringUlsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST)UlsanRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringPOSTECHPohangRepublic of Korea

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