Anaerobic co-digestion of organic wastes from households, slaughterhouses and meat processing industries was optimised in a half technical scale plant. The plant was operated for 130 days using two different substrates under organic loading rates of 10 and 12 kgCOD.m−3.d−1. Since the substrates were rich in fat and protein components (TKN: 12−1) the treatment was challenging. The process was monitored on-line and in the laboratory. It was demonstrated that an intensive and stable co-digestion of partly hydrolysed organic waste and protein rich slaughterhouse waste can be achieved in the balance of inconsistent pH and buffering NH4-N. In the first experimental period the reduction of the substrate COD was almost complete in an overall stable process (COD reduction >82%). In the second period methane productivity increased, but certain intermediate products accumulated constantly. Process design options for a second digestion phase for advanced degradation were investigated. Potential causes for slow and reduced propionic and valeric acid degradation were assessed. Recommendations for full-scale process implementation can be made from the experimental results reported. The highly loaded and stable co-digestion of these substrates may be a good technical and economic treatment alternative.

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