Enhanced mechanistic insights and performance optimization: Controlling methane and sulfide in sewers using nitrate dosing strategies

Publication Name

Science of the Total Environment


Nitrate has been used for nearly 80 years as a chemical to control problematic gases in the sewer system. However, few studies have explored simultaneous control in biofilm and sediment using different strategies. Here, we introduced a nitrate dosing method involving an initial high shock followed by low level dosing, tested at two distinct frequencies in a lab-scale sewer reactor <110 days. Long-term investigation revealed that the more frequent 20 min interval dosing slightly surpassed the 1 h interval method when applying the same hourly dose of 30 mg N/L (sulfide control: 98.3 ± 1.7 % vs 97.9 ± 1.5 %; methane control: 89.8 ± 4.5 % vs 83.4 ± 6.7 %). 16 s rRNA gene amplicon sequencing revealed biofilm detachment and sediment stratification, which can be attributed to the differing effects of nitrate dosing on biofilm and sedimentary microbial interactions. Dominant bacteria such as Thauera and Thiobacillus performed autotrophic denitrification and nitrate-reducing sulfide-oxidation in conjunction with methane oxidizers. These microbes collaboratively control sulfide and methane emissions from sediment. Our findings suggest that nitrate supports the diversity and versatility of their metabolism in the sewer system.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



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