Bioresource Technology, Vol.264, 24-34, 2018
Treatment of acidic sulfate-containing wastewater using revolving algae biofilm reactors: Sulfur removal performance and microbial community characterization
Industries such as mining operations are facing challenges of treating sulfur-containing wastewater such as acid mine drainage (AMD) generated in their plant. The aim of this work is to evaluate the use of a revolving algal biofilm (RAB) reactor to treat AMD with low pH (3.5-4) and high sulfate content (1-4 g/L). The RAB reactors resulted in sulfate removal efficiency up to 46% and removal rate up to 0.56 g/L-day, much higher than those obtained in suspension algal culture. The high-throughput sequencing revealed that the RAB reactor contained diverse cyanobacteria, green algae, diatoms, and acid reducing bacteria that contribute the sulfate removal through various mechanisms. The RAB reactors also showed a superior performance of COD, ammonia and phosphorus removal. Collectively, the study demonstrated that RAB-based process is an effective method to remove sulfate in wastewater with small footprint and can be potentially installed in municipal or industrial wastewater treatment facilities.