Six different conversion processes are identified in the degradation of particulate organic material (biopolymers) to methane. Hydrolysis of particulate material is followed by the degradation of the hydrolysis and intermediary products by five independent groups of microorganisms. Process and growth kinetic data for the six processes are reviewed. The kinetic data are applied to the design of an anaerobic digester for raw domestic sludge. Variations in loading rates primarily affect acetate decarboxylation and, thereby, may cause shifts in pH which, in turn, cause the digester to operate in the acidic regime.

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