Abstract

Regarding digesters, present guidelines assume that the temperature must be kept constant in order to achieve process stability and that there is a drop in gas production between 40 and 50 °C. Nevertheless, observations of full-scale application show that fluctuations in temperature between mesophilic and thermophilic environments is indeed possible without any loss in biogas production performance. This would be particularly favourable because the digester can thus act as a heat storage. In order to validate temperature fluctuations on full-scale digesters the data of two digesters from different wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with high temperature fluctuations were analyzed. In addition, chemical oxygen demand (COD) balances for different temperature ranges were conducted in order to evaluate the process stability. The results show that fluctuations between mesophilic and thermophilic conditions can be achieved without a decrease in biogas production. Increasing the temperature above 50 °C leads to an increase in organic acid concentration as described in the literature. Nevertheless, the total concentration of organic acid was still at an uncritical level below 500 mg/L. The COD balance shows no significant difference between 38 °C, 44 °C and 51 °C. The rate of temperature fluctuations per day specifically seems to be a main factor for process stability rather than temperature itself.

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