The study focused on the effluent quality and sludge characteristics during the start-up and operation of extreme thermophilic (70 to 80°C) upflow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactors, inoculated with mesophilic and thermophilic granular sludge and fed with acetate, volatile fatty acids (VFA), and thermomechanical pulping (TMP) whitewater. Low effluent quality and long start-up periods were observed during the start-up of the 70 to 76°C, VFA-fed UASB reactors inoculated with mesophilic granulae, while better effluent quality and considerably shorter start-up periods were observed when thermophilic (55/70°C) inocula were used. With VFA feed, a significant amount of acetate was removed at 70°C and even at 80°C, while propionate removal was negligible. With TMP whitewater feed, low VFA effluent concentration was obtained at 70°C. The volatile solids (VS) and the VS/total solids (TS) content of the sludge decreased significantly during the first 2–3 months of operation when mesophilic inocula were used. The initial specific methanogenic activity (ISMA) of the extreme thermophilic sludge decreased with increasing temperature and was slightly higher on glucose than on acetate. At 70 to 80°C, various rod-like bacteria were dispersed through the granulae in either individual or in low density micro colonies surrounded with a varying degree of precipitates.

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