Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 439–447 | Cite as

Stability and inhibition of anaerobic processes caused by insufficiency or excess of ammonia nitrogen

  • Jindřich ProcházkaEmail author
  • Petr Dolejš
  • Josef Máca
  • Michal Dohányos
Bioenergy and biofuels


Ammonia increases buffer capacity of methanogenic medium in mesophilic anaerobic reactor thus increasing the stability of anaerobic digestion process. Optimal ammonia concentration ensures sufficient buffer capacity while not inhibiting the process. It was found out in this paper that this optimum depends on the quality of anaerobic sludge under investigation. The optimal concentrations for methanogens were 2.1, 2.6 and 3.1 g/L of ammonia nitrogen in dependence on inoculum origin. High ammonia nitrogen concentration (4.0 g/L) inhibited methane production, while low ammonia nitrogen concentration (0.5 g/L) caused low methane yield, loss of biomass (as VSS) and loss of the aceticlastic methanogenic activity. It was found out that negative effect of low ammonia nitrogen concentration on biomass is caused not only by low buffer capacity but also by insufficiency of nitrogen as nutrient. It was also found out that anaerobic sludge with higher ammonia nitrogen concentration (4.2 g/L) tolerates even concentration of volatile fatty acids (160 mmol/L) which causes inhibition of the process with low ammonia nitrogen concentration (0.2 g/L).


Ammonia inhibition Anaerobic digestion Buffer capacity Process stability Volatile fatty acids 



This paper was supported by Ministry of Education project: “The study of chemical biological processes for the environmental protection, MSM6046137308” and from “Financial Support from Specific University Research (MSMT No. 21/2011)”. Authors would like to express gratitude to Lenka Vacková for her help.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jindřich Procházka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Petr Dolejš
    • 1
  • Josef Máca
    • 1
  • Michal Dohányos
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental Technology, Department of Water Technology and Environmental EngineeringInstitute of Chemical Technology PraguePrague 6Czech Republic

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