Oxidation of volatile reduced sulphur compounds in biotrickling filter inoculated with Thiobacillus thioparus
Reduced volatile sulphur compounds generate an impact on the environment, because of the bad smell and its low odour threshold. Compared with the existing physicochemical technologies for their elimination, biotrickling filters are an economically and environmentally sustainable alternative. Usually mixed cultures of microorganisms are used for inoculating biotrickling filters, in this case a pure culture of Thiobacillus thioparus is used for generating a biofilm, allowing to measure its capacity for the oxidation of four volatile reduced sulphur compounds: hydrogen sulphide, dimethyl sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl disulphide, using a residence time of 0.033 hrs. The viable cells of the biofilm were quantified by epifluorescence microscopy, staining the cells with ethidium bromide and acridine orange, polymerase chain reaction analysis in real time was used for testing the predominance of T. thiopharus in the biofilm. The microorganism was able to adhere and grow on the surface of rings made of polyethylene, with a viable population of 7·10(7) cell·ring-1, a 74% of total cells. The real time PCR showed a persistence of the population of T. thioparus for more than 300 days of operation, without being displaced by other microbial species. The maximum elimination capacities for each compound were 34.4; 21.8; 30.8 and 25.6 gS·m-3·h-1 for H2S, dimethylsulphide, dimethyldisulphide and methyl mercaptan, respectively. We conclude that it is possible to implement a biotrickling filter with the bacteria T. thioparus, which can oxidize volatile reduced sulphur compounds efficiently.