Methanol inhibition of anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) activity was characterized. An enrichment culture entrapped in a polyethylene glycol gel carrier was designed for practical uses of wastewater treatment. Batch experiments demonstrated that anammox activity decreased with increases in methanol concentration, and relative activity reached to 29% of the maximum when 5 mM methanol was added. Also, batch experiments were conducted using anammox sludge without immobilization. Anammox activity was evaluated by quantifying 14N15N (29N) emission by combined gas chromatography-quadrupole mass spectrometry, and the anammox activity was found to be almost as sensitive to methanol as in the earlier trials in which gel carriers were used. These results indicated that methanol inhibition was less severe than previous studies. When methanol was added in the influent of continuous feeding system, relative activity was decreased to 46% after 80 h. Although the addition was halted, afterwards the anammox activity was not resumed in another 19 days of cultivation, suggesting that methanol inhibition to anammox activity was irreversible. It is notable that methanol inhibition was not observed if anammox activity was quiescent when substrate for anammox was not supplied. These results suggest that methanol itself is not inhibitory and may not directly inhibit the anammox activity.
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