This study evaluates the sequenced anaerobic-aerobic treatment of hemp bark and hemp stem wood black liquors with respect to COD removal efficiency and detoxification. Anaerobic toxicity assays revealed that soda pulping liquors derived from hemp are just as toxic as those derived from wood. Hemp bark and stem wood black liquors caused 50% inhibition at concentrations of 5.9 and 4.5 g COD/l, respectively. Long term experiments were conducted in lab-scale upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors at 30°C. Black liquor was fed at sub-toxic concentrations (< 4 g COD/l). In the bark column loadings were applied up to 17.5 g COD/l*d with COD and BOD5 efficiencies of 56.0 and 87.9%, respectively. In the stem wood column loadings up to 18.4 g COD/l*d were reached with COD and BOD5 efficiencies of 42.3 and 81.0%, respectively. Aerobic post-treatment displayed only minor extra COD removal and a strong increase of color levels. After sequenced anaerobic-aerobic treatment, the COD removal was 70.9 and 58.4% for bark and stem wood liquor, respectively, whereas the BOD5 removal exceeded 98%. Strong detoxification was accomplished after anaerobic-aerobic treatment, as was demonstrated by anaerobic toxicity assays. After anaerobic-aerobic treatment bemp bark and stem wood black liquors caused 50% inhibition at concentrations of 135 and 21.5 g COD/l, respectively.

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