Thermomechanical pulping (TMP) whitewater was treated in thermophilic (55°C) anaerobic laboratory-scale reactors using three different reactor configurations. In all reactors up to 70% COD removals were achieved. The anaerobic hybrid reactor, composed of an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) and a filter, gave degradation rates up to 10 kg COD/m3d at loading rates of 15 kg COD/m3d and hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 3.1 hours. The anaerobic multi-stage reactor, consisting of three compartments, each packed with granular sludge and carrier elements, gave degradation rates up to 9 kg COD/m3d at loading rates of 15-16 kg COD/m3d, and HRT down to 2.6 hours. Clogging and short circuiting eventually became a problem in the multi-stage reactor, probably caused by too high packing of the carriers. The anaerobic moving bed biofilm reactor performed similar to the other reactors at loading rates below 1.4 kg COD/m3d, which was the highest loading rate applied. The use of carriers in the anaerobic reactors allowed short HRT with good treatment efficiencies for TMP whitewater.

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