Solubilization of organic sludge by thermophilic aerobic bacteria as a pretreatment for anaerobic digestion was investigated. The thermophilic bacteria which solubilized organic sludge were isolated from the thermophilic aerobic digestion reactor. The bacterium type SPT2-1 could grow at pH ranging from 5.0 to 8.5 with optimal temperature at 60–70°C. In batch experiments, 25–30% of volatile suspended solids (VSS) in the pre-heated sludge were solubilized on inoculating with the isolated bacteria although little was solubilized without inoculation. The isolated bacteria appeared to secret the extracellular enzymes including proteases and amylases. In continuous flow experiments, sludge solubilization rate (VSS removal) was around 40% under aerobic as well as microaerobic conditions. No accumulation of volatile fatty acids in the treated sludge was observed under aerobic conditions while significant amounts of them were accumulated under microaerobic conditions. Production of biogas on anaerobic digestion of the microaerobically-pretreated sludge was increased by 1.5 when compared with the sludge without pretreatment.

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