Source-separated food wastes collected from a university campus catering facility were processed in bench-scale anaerobic digesters. The feedstock contained a varied mix of fruits, vegetables, meats and fried foods. Two modes of digestion were compared. The first was hydraulic flush (HF) mode, in which liquids were flushed through the reactor on a retention time of 25 days while solids were maintained on an extended retention time of over 150 days. The converse was a solids wastage (SW) mode, in which liquid retention time was over 150 days, and solids were wasted to maintain a retention time of 25 days. SW reactors exhibited methanogenic failure after approximately 45 days. HF reactors, in contrast, maintained stable digestion for a period of 100 days, and were robust enough to recover from a thermal shock applied over a three-day period in which the temperature was increased from 35°C to 50°C between days 105–108 of the experiment. Stable operation was regained by day 139 and continued until the end of the run on day 150.

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