Sulfide-containing waste streams are generated in mining, petrochemical plants, tanneries, viscose rayon manufacture, and the gasification of coal. Colorless sulfur bacteria can oxidize sulfide to elemental sulfur (S°), which can be recovered, when oxygen is their electron acceptor. This study evaluated sulfide oxidation and S° recovery in an oxygen-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) treating the effluent from a sulfidogenic anaerobic baffled reactor. Sulfide oxidation efficiency (37-99%) and S° recovery (64-89% of oxidized sulfide) could be controlled by manipulating the sulfide loading, oxygen pressure to the fibers, and hydraulic retention time (HRT). For example, too-low oxygen pressure decreased S° recovery due to decreased sulfide oxidation, but too-high oxygen pressure lowered S° recovery due to its oxidation to sulfate. Most importantly, high sulfide oxidation (>98%) and conversion to S° (>75%) could be achieved together when the sulfide loading was less than 1.7 mol/m2•d and the O2 pressure was sufficient to give an O2 flux of at least 1.5 mol/m 2•d. However, higher sulfide loading could be compensated by a higher O2 pressure, and the best performance occurred when the sulfide loading was high (2 molS/m2•d), the O2 pressure was high (∼1 atm), and the HRT was short (1.9 h). Membrane fouling caused a low O2 flux, which led to low sulfide-oxidation efficiency, but fouling could be reversed by mild acid washing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4080-4087
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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