Anaerobe tolerance to oxygen and the potentials of anaerobic and aerobic cocultures for wastewater treatment

M. T. Kato, J. A. Field, G. Lettinga

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38 Scopus citations


The anaerobic treatment processes are considered to be well-established methods for the elimination of easily biodegradable organic matter from wastewaters. Some difficulties concerning certain wastewaters are related to the possible presence of dissolved oxygen. The common belief is that anaerobes are oxygen intolerant. Therefore, the common practice is to use sequencing anaerobic and aerobic steps in separate tanks. Enhanced treatment by polishing off the residual biodegradable oxygen demand from effluents of anaerobic reactors, or the biodegradation of recalcitrant wastewater pollutants, usually requires sequenced anaerobic and aerobic bacteria activities. However, the combined activity of both bacteria can also be obtained in a single reactor. Previous experiments with either pure or mixed cultures showed that anaerobes can tolerate oxygen to a certain extent. The oxygen toxicity to methanogens in anaerobic sludges was quantified in batch experiments, as well as in anaerobic reactors. The results showed that methanogens have a high tolerance to oxygen. In practice, it was confirmed that dissolved oxygen does not constitute any detrimental effect on reactor treatment performance. This means that the coexistence of anaerobic and aerobic bacteria in one single reactor is feasible and increases the potentials of new applications in wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-407
Number of pages13
JournalBrazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering


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