To maintain a stable thermophilic (55 °C) anaerobic digestion treating toilet paper-containing garbage, it is necessary to operate the digester at long hydraulic retention time (HRT) and low organic loading rate (OLR). Critical conditions of the digestion were investigated by operating the digester at HRT 23 days and OLR 3.4 gCODCr/L/d (R1) or HRT 14 days and OLR 5.6 gCODCr/L/d (R2) separately. Characteristics of methanogenesis of the two digesters were examined by measuring gas generation volume and volatile fatty acids (VFA) concentration, and the populations of four anaerobic acidogens and three methanogens were analyzed using quantitative PCR method. In digester R1, methanogenic activity was unstable but it could be recovered by stopping feeding as though VFA accumulation occurred. The population of acidogens and two methanogens were maintained at 1011–1013 copies/L, however, the population of Methanoculleus could not be recovered after methanogenesis recovering. In digester R2, the period of methanogenesis was significantly shorter than that in digester R1. Both the acidogens and the methanogens could not be maintained at a stable concentration. It is suggested that the critical HRT to sustain the population of acidogens in this process should be longer than 14 days and for all kinds of methanogens, HRT should be longer than 23 days.

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