Different process strategies for anaerobic digestion of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) are reviewed weighing high-solids versus low-solids, mesophilic versus thermophilic and single-stage versus multi-stage processes. The influence of different waste characteristics such as composition of biodegradable fractions, C:N ratio and particle size is described. Generally, source sorting of OFMSW and a high content of food waste leads to higher biogas yields than the use of mechanically sorted OFMSW. Thermophilic processes are more efficient than mesophilic processes in terms of higher biogas yields at different organic loading rates (OLR). Highest biogas yields are achieved by means of wet thermophilic processes at OLRs lower than 6 kg-VS·m−3 d−1. High-solids processes appear to be relatively more efficient when OLRs higher than 6 kg-VS·m−3 d−1 are applied. Multi-stage systems show in some investigations a higher reduction of recalcitrant organic matter compared to single-stage systems, but they are seldom applied in full-scale. An extended cost-benefit calculation shows that the highest overall benefit of the process is achieved at an OLR that is lower and a hydraulic retention time (HRT) that is longer than those values of OLR and HRT, at which the highest biogas production is achieved.

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