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Investigation of factors influencing biogas production in a large-scale thermophilic municipal biogas plant

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A continuously operated, thermophilic, municipal biogas plant was observed over 26 months (sampling twice per month) in regard to a number of physicochemical parameters and the biogas production. Biogas yields were put in correlation to parameters such as the volatile fatty acid concentration, the pH and the ammonium concentration. When the residing microbiota was classified via analysis of the 16S rRNA genes, most bacterial sequences matched with unidentified or uncultured bacteria from similar habitats. Of the archaeal sequences, 78.4% were identified as belonging to the genus Methanoculleus, which has not previously been reported for biogas plants, but is known to efficiently use H2 and CO2 produced by the degradation of fatty acids by syntrophic microorganisms. In order to further investigate the influence of varied amounts of ammonia (2–8 g/L) and volatile fatty acids on biogas production and composition (methane/CO2), laboratory scale satellite experiments were performed in parallel to the technical plant. Finally, ammonia stripping of the process water of the technical plant was accomplished, a measure through which the ammonia entering the biogas reactor via the mash could be nearly halved, which increased the energy output of the biogas plant by almost 20%.

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The authors are grateful for the financial support provided by Bayerische Forschungsstiftung, Germany (project 593/04). We would also like to thank Prof. Krauss, Chair for Biochemistry, University of Bayreuth, for supplying the S. islandicus cell mass. The authors especially thank Anne Röhrig, Melanie Krist and Janine Sommer for their assistance with the plasmid preparations and the PCR.

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Correspondence to Ruth Freitag.

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Weiss, A., Jérôme, V., Burghardt, D. et al. Investigation of factors influencing biogas production in a large-scale thermophilic municipal biogas plant. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 84, 987–1001 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-009-2093-6

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  • Ammonia stripping
  • Biogas
  • Energy
  • Inhibition
  • Acetoclastic methanogenesis
  • Volatile fatty acids