Effect of process conditions on the performance of a dual-reactor biodesulfurization process

Rink, Rieks de; Gupta, Suyash; Piccioli de Carolis, Flavia; Liu, Dandan; Heijne, Annemiek ter; Klok, Johannes B.M.; Buisman, Cees J.N.


The biotechnological gas desulfurization process under haloalkaline conditions is widely applied for removal of toxic H2S from sour gas streams. In this process H2S is biologically oxidized into elemental sulfur. Recently, the process has been extended with an anaerobic process step (dual-reactor line-up), increasing the selectivity for elemental sulfur (S8) from ~85–97% and decreasing the formation of (thio)sulfate. It was also found that biological sulfide uptake took place in the anaerobic bioreactor. In order to apply this process in industry, more insight is needed of the effect of the process conditions on the process performance. The effect of the process conditions HRT and sulfide concentration in the anaerobic bioreactor and pH on the overall product selectivities and on biological sulfide uptake in the anaerobic bioreactor were investigated. 7 experiments were performed in a pilot-scale biodesulfurization set-up. In all experiments, high selectivities (>95%) for S8 formation were obtained, except when the pH in the aerated bioreactor was increased from 8.5 to 9.1 (selectivity of 88%). Furthermore, biological sulfide uptake in the anaerobic bioreactor increased at higher sulfide concentrations and at higher pH. We hypothesize the biological sulfide uptake under anaerobic conditions is related to polysulfide formation. Our results increase the understanding how to control biological sulfide conversion in the dual-reactor biodesulfurization process.