An investigation into the mechanism underlying enhanced hydrolysis of complex carbon in a biosulphidogenic recycling sludge bed reactor (RSBR)
The potential for using readily available and cost-effective complex carbon sources such as primary sewage sludge for a range of biological processes, including the bioremediation of acid mine drainage, has been constrained by the slow rate of solubilisation and low yield of soluble products, which drive the above mentioned processes. Previous research into the hydrolysis of complex organic matter, such as primary sludge, under biosulphidogenic conditions within a novel Recycling Sludge Bed
... ling Sludge Bed Reactor (RSBR) demonstrated solubilisation in excess of 50%. However, further investigation was required into the mechanism of this enhanced hydrolysis. The current study was aimed at confirming that hydrolysis is enhanced under biosulphidogenic conditions, and to obtain an estimate of the relative rates of hydrolysis using toluene as a specific metabolic inhibitor. The solubilisation of primary sewage sludge under sulphate reducing conditions was conducted in controlled flask studies and previously reported findings of enhanced hydrolysis were confirmed. The maximum percentage solubilisation obtained in this study over a 10-day period was 31% and 64% for the methanogenic and sulphidogenic systems respectively. By using toluene as an inhibitor of bacterial uptake of soluble carbohydrates, it was possible to determine the rate of production of various key products of the hydrolytic step. From the results of the current experiment, the rate of production of soluble carbohydrate, and therefore the rate of hydrolysis of complex carbohydrates, in terms of COD equivalents was estimated at 543 mgCOD·l -1 ·d -1 and 156 mgCOD·l -1 ·d -1 under sulphidogenic and methanogenic conditions, respectively.