High-rate anaerobic treatment of Fischer-Tropsch wastewater in a packed-bed biofilm reactor

M. Majone, F. Aulenta, D. Dionisi, E. N. D'Addario, R. Sbardellati, D. Bolzonella, M. Beccari

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52 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the anaerobictreatment of an industrial wastewater from aFischer–Tropsch (FT) process in a continuous-flow packed-bedbiofilmreactor operated under mesophilic conditions (35 °C). The considered synthetic wastewater has an overall chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentration of around 28 g/L, mainly due to alcohols. A gradual increase of the organic load rate (OLR), from 3.4 gCOD/L/d up to 20 gCOD/L/d, was adopted in order to overcome potential inhibitory effects due to long-chain alcohols (>C6). At the highest applied OLR (i.e., 20 gCOD/L/d) and a hydraulic retention time of 1.4 d, the COD removal was 96% with nearly complete conversion of the removed COD into methane. By considering a potential of 200 tCOD/d to be treated, this would correspond to a net production of electric energy of about 8 × 107 kWh/year.

During stable reactor operation, a COD balance and batch tests showed that about 80% of the converted COD was directly metabolized through H2- and acetate-releasing reactions, which proceeded in close syntrophic cooperation with hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic methanogenesis (contributing to about 33% and 54% of overall methane production, respectively). Finally, energetic considerations indicated that propionic acid oxidation was the metabolic conversion step most dependent on the syntrophic partnership of hydrogenotrophic methanogens and accordingly the most susceptible to variations of the applied OLR or toxicity effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2745-2752
Number of pages8
JournalWater research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • anaerobic treatment
  • Gibbs free energy
  • Fischer-Tropsch wastewater
  • long-chain alcohols
  • packed-bed biofilm


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