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Bioaugmentation was investigated as a method to decrease the recovery period of anaerobic digesters exposed to a transient toxic event. Two sets of laboratory-scale digesters (SRT = 10 days, OLR = 2 g COD/L-day), started with inoculum from a digester stabilizing synthetic municipal wastewater solids (MW) and synthetic industrial wastewater (WW), respectively, were transiently exposed to the model toxicant, oxygen. Bioaugmented digesters received 1.2 g VSS/L-day of an H2-utilizing culture for which the archaeal community was analyzed. Soon after oxygen exposure, the bioaugmented digesters produced 25–60% more methane than non-bioaugmented controls (p < 0.05). One set of digesters produced lingering high propionate concentrations, and bioaugmentation resulted in significantly shorter recovery periods. The second set of digesters did not display lingering propionate, and bioaugmented digesters recovered at the same time as non-bioaugmented controls. The difference in the effect of bioaugmentation on recovery may be due to differences between microbial communities of the digester inocula originally employed. In conclusion, bioaugmentation with an H2-utilizing culture is a potential tool to decrease the recovery period, decrease propionate concentration, and increase biogas production of some anaerobic digesters after a toxic event. Digesters already containing rapidly adaptable microbial communities may not benefit from bioaugmentation, whereas other digesters with poorly adaptable microbial communities may benefit greatly.
Schauer-Gimenez, Anne; Zitomer, Daniel; Maki, James; and Struble, Craig, "Bioaugmentation for Improved Recovery of Anaerobic Digesters After Toxicant Exposure" (2010). Biological Sciences Faculty Research and Publications. 69.