Aerobic degradation of high tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) and its impacts on nitrification and microbial community

Yi Ju Wu, Laurensia Irmayani, Aussie Amalia Setiyawan, Liang Ming Whang

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) was often used as developer in the high-tech industries. Information regarding biological treatment of high TMAH-containing wastewater is limited. This study investigated aerobic degradation of high TMAH, its impacts on nitrification, and microbial community in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR). The initial TMAH concentrations of SBR gradually increased from 200 to 4666 mg L−1 (equivalent to 31 to 718 mg-N L−1) to enrich microbial community for aerobic TMAH degradation and nitrification. The results indicated that the aerobic specific TMAH degradation rates followed the Monod-type kinetics with a maximum specific TMAH degradation rate of 2.184 mg N hour−1 g volatile suspended solid (VSS)−1 and the half-saturation coefficient of 175.1 mg N L−1. After TMAH degradation and ammonia release, the lag time for the onset of nitrification highly correlated with initial TMAH fed for the SBR. According to the microbial community analysis using next generation sequencing (NGS), potential aerobic TMAH-degraders including Mycobacterium sp. and Hypomicrobium sp. were enriched in the aerobic SBR. The results of real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and reverse transcript (RT)-qPCR indicated that Hyphomicrobium sp. may be able to utilize both TMAH and its degradation intermediates such as trimethylamine (TMA), while Thiobacillus sp. can only utilize TMAH. The qPCR and RT-qPCR results suggested that TMAH may inhibit nitrification by inactive expression of amoA gene and the intermediates of TMAH degradation may compete ammonia monooxygenase (AMO) enzyme with ammonia for nitrification inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127146
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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