The primary aim of our research was to investigate the applicability of activated sludge models (ASM) for aerobic thermophilic processes, especially autothermal thermophilic aerobic digestion (ATAD). The ASM3 model (Gujer et al., 1999) theoretically seems to be the most suitable, because
storage plays an important role in a batch-feed cycle system like ATAD. The ASM3 model was extended with an activation step of the thermophilic organisms. This model was calibrated and verified by independent test results, demonstrating its ability to describe the process. The growth (μH
= 26.04 day−1), storage (kSTO = 20.39 day−1), hydrolysis (kH = 11.15 day−1) and decay rates (bH,O2 = 1.28 day−1, bSTO,O2
= 1.10 day−1) obtained from calibration are significantly higher at 55°C than at mesophilic temperatures, justifying the faster metabolism at higher temperatures. An inert fraction of the biomass (characterized by the model parameter fI =
0.4) was found to be significantly greater than in the mesophilic case. This can be attributed to the lower diversity of the thermophilic species and thus to their narrower substrate spectra.
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