The state of the art of thermophilic digestion is discussed. Thermophilic digestion is a well established technology in Europe for treatment of mixtures of waste in common large scale biogas plants or for treatment of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste. Due to a large number of failures over time with thermophilic digestion of sewage sludge this process has lost its appeal in the USA. New demands on sanitation of biosolids before land use will, however, bring the attention back to the use of elevated temperatures during sludge stabilization. In the paper we show how the use of a start-up strategy based on the actual activity of key microbes can be used to ensure proper and fast transfer of mesophilic digesters into thermophilic operation. Extreme thermophilic temperatures of 65°C or more may be necessary in the future to meet the demands for full sanitation of the waste material before final disposal. We show data of anaerobic digestion at extreme thermophilic temperatures.

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