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A new non-aerated illuminated packed-column reactor for the development of sulfide-oxidizing biofilms

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This paper describes an illuminated reactor that allows the spontaneous development of biofilms aimed at the treatment of sulfide-containing streams. The reactor operates as a sulfidostat and is composed of an illuminated packed-column, in which microorganisms are exposed to constant low substrate concentrations, thereby avoiding inhibition due to high sulfide concentrations. The control system allows highly polluted streams to be oxidized by the microbial biofilm while ensuring the quality of the effluent produced. Both monospecies and multispecies biofilms have been developed. Biofilms undergo changes in light irradiance and sulfide load while providing a consistent reduction of the sulfide levels, down to micromolar concentrations. Both types of biofilm developed differ from stirred reactors in that their specific activities are lower, constituting systems with a slow dynamic behavior and, therefore, they are less sensitive to sudden disturbances.

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This work was supported by grants BOS2000-0139 and REN2000-0332-P4 from the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología to J.M. I.F. was supported by a FPI-FI fellowship from the Generalitat de Catalunya. We thank Dr. Carles Borrego from the University of Girona for providing the strain of C. limicola used in this work.

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Correspondence to I. Ferrera.

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Ferrera, I., Sánchez, O. & Mas, J. A new non-aerated illuminated packed-column reactor for the development of sulfide-oxidizing biofilms. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 64, 659–664 (2004).

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