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The Effect of Digester Temperature on the Production of Volatile Organic Sulfur Compounds Associated with Thermophilic Anaerobic Biosolids

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Volatile organic sulfur compounds (VOSC) are recognized as major contributors to malodors associated with dewatered and land applied biosolids. Recent research in the area of VOSC production and control has revealed that microbial degradation of sulfur containing amino acids is the likely mechanism in the formation of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and methanethiol (MT). The objective of this research was to determine whether increased digestion temperatures within the thermophilic range (49°C–57.5°C) could have an impact on the microbial production of VOSC, and in doing so, decrease biosolids odor. In addition, observations of digester performance and stability were made in order to determine the feasibility of operating at these high temperatures. Results of this research suggest that high thermophilic temperatures are an effective means of biosolids odor abatement. Biosolids associated with digestion temperatures greater than 53°C yielded an 83% reduction in total headspace sulfur when compared with mesophilic biosolids and a 71% reduction in total headspace sulfur when compared to low-temperature thermophilic (49°C) biosolids. However, treatment at higher temperatures (55°C, 57.5°C) showed evidence of inhibition of methanogenic activity. These data suggest that simple operational parameters such as temperature can be utilized to manipulate the activity of various microbial communities of interest within an anaerobic digester, and that increased digestion temperature can indeed be effective in the control of biosolids odor.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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