Calcium precipitation can have a number of effects on the performance of high-rate anaerobic performance including cementing of the sludge bed, limiting diffusion, and diluting the active biomass. The aim of this study was to observe the influence of precipitation in a stable full-scale system fed with high-calcium paper factory wastewater. Granules were examined from an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor (volume 1,805 m3) at a recycled paper mill with a loading rate of 5.7–6.6 kgCOD.m−3.d−1 and influent calcium concentration of 400–700 gCa.m−3. The granules were relatively small (1 mm), with a 200–400 μm core of calcium precipitate as observed with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Compared to other granules, Methanomicrobiales not Methanobacteriales were the dominant hydrogen or formate utilisers, and putative acidogens were filamentous. The strength of the paper mill fed granules was very high when compared to granules from other full-scale reactors, and a partial linear correlation between granule strength and calcium concentration was identified.

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