Bioresource Technology, Vol.279, 101-107, 2019
Bioaugmented methanol production using ammonia oxidizing bacteria in a continuous flow process
Organic compounds such as methanol are widely used for enhancing denitrification at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to meet effluent water quality permits. On the other hand, methane, which is the main feedstock for industrial methanol production, is also generated during anaerobic digestion in WWTPs, but is often flared to mitigate its greenhouse impacts. The overarching goal herein was to develop a novel continuous process for methanol production from methane using nitrifying activated sludge. The maximum AOB specific methanol production rate using hydroxylamine as electron donor was 1.61 +/- 0.15 and 1.27 +/- 0.15 mg-COD-CH3OH/(mg-COD-AOB*d), for hydraulic retention times (HRTs) of 7.5 h and 2 h, respectively. The corresponding production rate using ammonia as electron donor was 0.31 +/- 0.08 mg-COD-CH3OH/(mg-COD-AOB*d) at a HRT of 2 h. These results show that nitrifier-mediated methanol production in a continuous-flow system can enhance the efficiency of WWTPs through internal production of biomethanol for denitrification, while simultaneously minimizing wasteful biogas flaring.