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Concept: Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion


The feasibility of anaerobic treatment of methanol condensate from pulp and paper mill in UASB reactor was investigated and compared with the anaerobic treatment of methanol. The UASB reactor treating methanol condensate was operated for 480days with minimum problems of overload. COD removal from methanol condensate and methanol under normal operating conditions ranged from 84-86% to 86-98%, respectively. Under optimal conditions (OLR=5.0gCODL(-1)day(-1), COD(influent)=11.40gL(-1)) a methane yield of 0.29 NL CH(4) per g COD(removed) (at standard temperature and pressure) was achieved during the treatment of methanol condensate. The recovery time of the microorganisms after several overloads was decreasing each time probably due to the adaptation to methanol condensate. These findings indicate that methanol condensate can be efficiently treated in a UASB reactor with the benefit of biogas production. As a bonus effect of the treatment, much of the smell of the feed was eliminated.

Concepts: Thermodynamics, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Paper, Methane, Standard conditions for temperature and pressure, Pulp and paper industry, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion


The present work reports the first ever evaluation of the biological CH4 potential (BMP) of starfish, classified as invasive species. Since starfish contain a large amount of inorganic matter, only the supernatant obtained through grinding and centrifugation was used for BMP test. By applying response surface methodology, the individual and interactive effects of three parameters, inoculum/substrate ratios, substrate concentrations, and buffer capacities on CH4 production were investigated, and the maximum CH4 yield of 334mL CH4/g COD was estimated. In addition, continuous CH4 production was attempted using a two-stage (acidogenic sequencing batch reactor+methanogenic up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor (UASBr)) fermentation process. Acidification efficiency was maximized at 2days of hydraulic retention time with valerate, butyrate, and acetate as main acids, and these were converted to CH4 with showing 296mL CH4/g CODadded. Overall, the two-stage fermentation process could convert 44% of organic content in whole starfish to CH4.

Concepts: Protein, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Methane, Methanogen, Landfill, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion, Methanogenesis


Phenols are industrially generated intermediate chemicals found in wastewaters that are considered a class of environmental priority pollutants. Up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors are used for phenolic wastewater treatment and exhibit high volume loading capability, favorable granule settling, and tolerance to impact loads. Use of support materials can promote biological productivity and accelerate start-up period of UASB. In the present study, turf soil was used as a support material in a mesophilic UASB reactor for the removal of phenols in wastewater. During sludge acclimatization (45-96 days), COD and phenols in the treatments were both reduced by 97%, whereas these contents in the controls were decreased by 81% and 75%, respectively. The phenol load threshold for the turf soil UASB reactor was greater (1200 mg/L, the equivalent of COD 3000 mg/L) in comparison with the control UASB reactor (900 mg/L, the equivalent of COD 2250 mg/L) and the turf soil UASB reactor was also more resistant to shock loading. Improved sludge settling, shear resistance, and higher biological activity occurred with the turf soil UASB reactor due to the formation of large granular sludge (0.6 mm or larger) in higher relative percentages. Granular sludge size was further enhanced by the colonization of filamentous bacteria on the irregular surface of the turf soil.

Concepts: Sewage treatment, Anaerobic digestion, Sewage, Wastewater, Phenols, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion


Simultaneous removal of selenite and tellurite from synthetic wastewater was achieved through microbial reduction in a lab-scale upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor operated with 12 h hydraulic retention time at 30 °C and pH 7 for 120 days. Lactate was supplied as electron donor at an organic loading rate of 528 or 880 mg COD L-1 day-1. The reactor was initially fed with a synthetic influent containing 0.05 mM selenite and tellurite each (phase I, day 1-60) and subsequently with 0.1 mM selenite and tellurite each (phase II, day 61-120). At the end of phase I, selenite and tellurite removal efficiencies were 93 and 96%, respectively. The removal percentage dropped to 87 and 81% for selenite and tellurite, respectively, at the beginning of phase II because of the increased influent concentrations. The removal efficiencies of both selenite and tellurite were gradually restored within 20 days and stabilized at ≥ 97% towards the end of the experiment. Powder X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy confirmed the formation of biogenic Se(0), Te(0), and Se(0)-Te(0) nanostructures. Scanning transmission electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy showed aggregates comprising of Se(0), Te(0), and Se-Te nanostructures embedded in a layer of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Infrared spectroscopy confirmed the presence of chemical signatures of the EPS which capped the nanoparticle aggregates that had been formed and immobilized in the granular sludge. This study suggests a model for technologies for remediation of effluents containing Se and Te oxyanions coupled with biorecovery of bimetal(loid) nanostructures.

Concepts: Electron, Spectroscopy, X-ray, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, Scanning electron microscope, Infrared spectroscopy, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion


Simultaneous recovery of calcium phosphate granules (CaP granules) and methane from vacuum collected black water (BW), using an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor was previously investigated. It was calculated that only 2% of the total phosphorus (P) fed was present as CaP granules whereas 51% of the P accumulated dispersed in the reactor, limiting the applicability of this process for recovery of phosphate. This study proposes adding calcium to increase the P accumulation in the reactor and the production of CaP granules. Calcium was added in a lab-scale UASB reactor fed with BW. An identical UASB reactor was used as reference, to which no calcium was added. The treatment performance was evaluated by weekly monitoring of influent, effluent and produced biogas. Sludge bed development and CaP granulation were assessed through particle size analysis. The composition and structure of CaP granules were chemically and optically assessed. Calcium addition increased accumulation of P in the reactor and formation and growth of granules with size > 0.4 mm diameter (CaP granules). Moreover, with calcium addition, CaP granules contained 5.6 ± 1.5 wt% of P, while without calcium a lower P content was observed (3.7 ± 0.3 wt%). By adding Ca, 89% of the incoming P from BW accumulated in the reactor and 31% was sampled as CaP granules (> 0.4 mm diameter). Addition of 250 mgCa L-1 of BW was the optimum loading found in this study. Furthermore, no significant reduction in CODTotal removal (> 80%) and CH4 production (0.47 ± 0.10 gCOD-CH4 g-1CODTotal-BW) was observed. Therefore, adding calcium can significantly increase the CaP granulation without inhibiting the simultaneous CH4 recovery. This further indicates the potential of this process for phosphate recovery.

Concepts: Bone, Calcium, Addition, Algebraic structure, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Methane, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion


Previous work has demonstrated that pre-treatment of waste activated sludge (WAS) with free nitrous acid (FNA i.e. HNO2) enhances the biodegradability of WAS, identified by a 20-50% increase in specific methane production in biochemical methane potential (BMP) tests. This suggests that FNA pre-treatment would enhance the destruction of volatile solids (VS) in an anaerobic sludge digester, and reduce overall sludge disposal costs, provided that the dewaterability of the digested sludge is not negatively affected. This study experimentally evaluates the impact of FNA pre-treatment on the VS destruction in anaerobic sludge digestion and on the dewaterability of digested sludge, using continuously operated bench-scale anaerobic digesters. Pre-treatment of full-scale WAS for 24 h at an FNA concentration of 1.8 mg NN/L enhanced VS destruction by 17 ± 1% (from 29.2 ± 0.9% to 34.2 ± 1.1%) and increased dewaterability (centrifuge test) from 12.4 ± 0.4% to 14.1 ± 0.4%. Supporting the VS destruction data, methane production increased by 16 ± 1%. Biochemical methane potential tests indicated that the final digestate stability was also improved with a lower potential from FNA treated digestate. Further, a 2.1 ± 0.2 log improvement in pathogen reduction was also achieved. With inorganic solids representing 15-22% of the full-scale WAS used, FNA pre-treatment resulted in a 16-17% reduction in the volume of dewatered sludge for final disposal. This results in significantly reduced costs as assessed by economic analysis.

Concepts: Anaerobic digestion, Waste management, Biogas, Methane, Mechanical biological treatment, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion, Methanogenesis, Digestate


In Mexico, the corn tortilla is a food of great economic importance. Corn tortilla production generates about 1500-2000 m(3) of wastewater per 600 tons of processed corn. Although this wastewater (also known as nejayote) has a high organic matter content, few studies in Mexico have analyzed its treatment. This study presents fresh data on the potential methane production capacity of nejayote in a two-phase anaerobic digestion system using an Anaerobic-Packed Column Reactor (APCR) to optimize the acidogenic phase and an up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor to enhance the methanogenic process. Results indicate that day 8 was ideal to couple the APCR to the UASB reactor. This allowed for a 19-day treatment that yielded 96% COD removal and generated a biogas containing 84% methane. The methane yield was 282 L kg(-1) of CODremoved. Thus, two-phase anaerobic digestion is an efficient process to treat nejayote; furthermore, this study demonstrated the possibility of using an industrial application by coupling the APCR to the UASB reactor system, in order to assess its feasibility for biomethane generation as a sustainable bioenergy source.

Concepts: Sewage treatment, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Sintex Digester, Methane, Sewerage, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion, Methanogenesis


CO is a main component of syngas, which can be produced from the gasification of organic wastes and biomass. CO can be converted to methane by anaerobic digestion (AD), however, it is still challenging due to its toxicity to microorganisms and limited knowledge about CO converting microorganisms. In the present study, anaerobic granular sludge (AGS) was used for the simultaneous biomethanation of wastewater and CO. Batch experiments showed that AGS tolerated CO partial pressure as high as 0.5 atm without affecting its ability for synthetic wastewater degradation, which had higher tolerance of CO compared to suspended sludge (less than 0.25 atm) as previously reported. Continuous experiments in upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors showed AGS could efficiently convert synthetic wastewater and CO into methane by applying gas-recirculation. The addition of CO to UASB reactor enhanced the hydrogenotrophic CO-oxidizing pathway, resulted in the increase of extracellular polymeric substances, changed the morphology of AGS and significantly altered the microbial community compositions of AGS. The microbial species relating with CO conversion and their functions were revealed by metagenomic analysis. It showed that 23 of the 70 reconstructed genome bins (GBs), most of which were not previously characterized at genomic level, were enriched and contained genes involved in CO conversion upon CO addition. CO-converting microorganisms might be taxonomically more diverse than previously known and have multi-functions in the AD process. The reductive tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle in combination with the oxidation of the CO was probably crucial for CO utilization by the majority of the GBs in the present study.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Anaerobic digestion, Methane, Gasification, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion, Methanogenesis


Calcium phosphate (CaP) granules were discovered in the anaerobic treatment of vacuum collected black water (BW), using upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) technology. This allows simultaneous recovery of CaP granules and methane in the UASB reactor. However, the role of BW composition on CaP granulation is not yet understood. Moreover, CaP granulation was not observed in previous research on anaerobic treatment of BW, although similar treatment conditions were applied. Therefore, this study shows specifically the influence of bicarbonate and calcium fluctuations in BW on the phosphorus accumulation in the UASB reactor, which directly affects CaP granulation. Without calcium addition, 5% of the total phosphorus (P) fed was found as CaP granules in the reactor (61 mgP g(-1)dried matter), after 260 days of operation. Simultaneously, 65% of the COD in BW was efficiently converted into methane at 25 °C. Variations of bicarbonate and calcium concentrations in raw BW showed a significant influence on phosphorus accumulation in the UASB reactor. Geochemical modelling showed that the increase of soluble calcium from 39 to 54 mg L(-1) in BW triggers supersaturation for calcium phosphate precursors (Cax(PO4)y). Concurrently, bicarbonate decreased from 2.7 to 1.2 g L(-1), increasing further the ionic activity of calcium. Formation and accumulation of seed particles possibly enhanced CaP granulation. Preliminary results showed that addition of calcium (Ca(2+)/PO4(3-) molar ratio of 3) increased the accumulation of total P in the UASB reactor to more than 85%. This further increases the granulation rate and consequently, the process feasibility.

Concepts: Bone, Calcium, Phosphate, Phosphoric acid, Anaerobic digestion, Phosphorus, Sewage, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion


A pilot-scale upflow anaerobic sludge blanket-moving bed biofilm (UASB-MBB) reactor followed by a high-rate algal pond (HRAP) was designed and operated to remove organic matter, nutrients and pathogens from sewage and to facilitate reuse. For an influent chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentration of 233 ± 20 mg/L, final effluent COD was 50 ± 6 mg/L. Successful biomass granulation was observed in the sludge bed of the upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor after 5 months of operation. Ammonia removal in HRAP was 85.1 ± 2.4% with average influent and effluent ammonia nitrogen concentrations of 20 ± 3 mg/L and 3 ± 1 mg/L, respectively. Phosphate removal after treatment in the HRAP was 91 ± 1%. There was a 2-3 log scale pathogen removal after treatment in HRAP with most probable number (MPN) of the final effluent being 600-800 per 100 mL, which is within acceptable standards for surface irrigation. The blackwater after treatment in UASB-MBBR-HRAP is being reused for gardening and landscaping. This proper hydro-dynamically designed UASB reactor demonstrated successful granulation and moving bed media improved sludge retention in UASB reactor. This combination of UASB-MBB reactor followed by HRAP demonstrated successful sewage treatment for a year covering all seasons.

Concepts: Oxygen, Bacteria, Water pollution, Sewage treatment, Anaerobic digestion, Sewage, Wastewater, Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket digestion