Metabolic analysis of the removal of formic acid by unacclimated activated sludge

C. Cruz Viggi, D. Dionisi, A. Miccheli, M. Valerio, M. Majone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the removal of formicacid by unacclimated biomass from a municipal activatedsludge wastewater treatment plant. The biomass was initially able to remove formicacid, but its removal rate and Oxygen Uptake Rate (OUR) decreased with time, until formicacidremoval stopped before the formicacid had been exhausted. Formaldehyde was removed in a similar way, whereas the same biomass was simultaneously able to grow and store PHAs when acetic acid was used as substrate.

Batch tests with glycine and 13C NMR analysis were performed, showing that unacclimated biomass was not able to synthesize all the metabolic intermediates from formicacid alone. At least glycine needed to be externally supplemented, in order to activate the serine synthesis pathway. A small amount of formicacidremoval in the absence of growth was also possible through formaldehyde formation and its further conversion to formalin (1,2-formaldehyde dimer), whereas no PHAs were formed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3393-3400
Number of pages8
JournalWater research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • activated sludge
  • formic acid
  • NMR
  • 13C
  • isotopomer analysis


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