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Effect of selenate and thiosulfate on anaerobic methanol degradation using activated sludge

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Anaerobic bioconversion of methanol was tested in the presence of selenate (SeO42−), thiosulfate (S2O32−), and sulfate (SO42−) as electron acceptors. Complete SeO42− reduction occurred at COD:SeO42− ratios of 12 and 30, whereas ~ 83% reduction occurred when the COD:SeO42− ratio was 6. Methane production did not occur at the three COD:SeO42− ratios investigated. Up to 10.1 and 30.9% of S2O32− disproportionated to SO42− at COD:S2O32− ratios of 1.2 and 2.25, respectively, and > 99% reduction was observed at both ratios. The presence of S2O32− lowered the methane production by 73.1% at a COD:S2O32− ratio of 1.2 compared to the control (no S2O32−). This study showed that biogas production was not preferable for SeO42− and S2O32−-rich effluents and volatile fatty acid production could be a potential resource recovery option.

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The authors thank the lab staff of UNESCO-IHE for their analytical support and the staff from Harnaschpolder WWTP (Delft, the Netherlands) for providing the activated sludge.


This work was supported by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Joint Doctorate (EJD) in Advanced Biological Waste-to-Energy Technologies (ABWET) funded from Horizon 2020 under the grant agreement no. 643071.

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Correspondence to Eldon R. Rene.

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Eregowda, T., Rene, E.R., Matanhike, L. et al. Effect of selenate and thiosulfate on anaerobic methanol degradation using activated sludge. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-07597-8

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  • Selenate reduction
  • Thiosulfate reduction
  • Thiosulfate disproportionation
  • Methylotrophy