Non-Targeted Characterization of the Metabolic Profile of Wastewater Bioreactors Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
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This presentation discusses the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy as a non-targeted tool to monitor variations in the metabolic profile of an anaerobic bioreactor used to treat industrial wastewater that has been exposed to Benzalkonium chloride, a common disinfection agent used in industrial cleaning processes.

NMR spectroscopy is a powerful non-targeted analytical tool used to obtain high-resolution molecular-level data relating to the makeup of complex mixtures of organic compounds with minimal sample preparation. This approach provides a non-biased, non-targeted and fully quantitative approach to monitor changes in the metabolic profile of a bioreactor in response to stress. The objective of this study was to monitor the variation in the metabolic profile of wastewater effluent, particularly the variations in fatty acid production, of a bioreactor system that has been exposed to quaternary ammonium compounds that are known to interfere with the proper functioning of the anaerobic digestion process and relate those variations to the quality and quantity of the biogas produced (i.e. CO2 and CH4). Clear variations in several regions of the NMR spectrum are observed over time and in response to increasing concentrations of Benzalkonium chloride. A clear development of propionic, isobutyric, isovaleric, and other volatile fatty acids (VFAs) is observed indicating a disruption to the overall ability of the system to convert fatty acids to methane. The ability to successfully identify both the overall fatty acid profile and the occurrence of the individual VFAs in one analysis helps to provide valuable information on the metabolic pathways involved in the bioreactor disruption. The capacity to simultaneously measure these operating parameters lends the use of NMR spectroscopy as a fingerprinting tool to identify changes in the chemical composition of a bioreactor and recognize deviations away from normal operation. This analytical technique can be used to give an up to date analysis of the key chemical parameters governing the system. This improved approach for monitoring and diagnosing variations in the chemistry of industrial anaerobic bioreactors will improve the optimization of these systems by giving us the ability to better identify and respond to potential fouling events.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Julie Konzuk, Janet Goodfellow, Nick Butson
  • All Authors: Ryan Freemantle, University of the Guelph Authors: James Longstaffe, University of Guelph; Julie Konzuk, Janet Goodfellow, Nick Butson, Geosyntec Consultants
  • Title: Non-Targeted Characterization of the Metabolic Profile of Wastewater Bioreactors Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • Event or Publication: Water Environment Federation's Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC)
  • Practice Areas: Water and Natural Resources
  • Citation: Geosyntec will be well represented at the Water Environment Federation's Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois on September 21-25, 2019.
  • Date: Sept. 23, 2019 at 1:30-2:00 p.m.
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois