The effect of low temperature (5–29 °C) and adaptation on the methanogenic activity of biomass


The influence of low temperature (5–29 °C) on the methanogenic activity of non-adapted digested sewage sludge and on temperature/leachate-adapted biomass was assayed by using municipal landfill leachate, intermediates of anaerobic degradation (propionate) and methane precursors (acetate, H2/CO2) as substrates. The temperature dependence of methanogenic activity could be described by Arrhenius-derived models. However, both substrate and adaptation affected the temperature dependence. The adaptation of biomass in a leachate-fed upflow anaerobic sludge-blanket reactor at approximately 20 °C for 4 months resulted in a sevenfold and fivefold increase of methanogenic activity at 11 °C and 22 °C respectively. Both acetate and H2/CO2 were methanized even at 5 °C. At 22 °C, methanogenic activities (acetate 4.8–84 mM) were 1.6–5.2 times higher than those at 11 °C. The half-velocity constant (K s) of acetate utilization at 11 °C was one-third of that at 22 °C while a similar K i was obtained at both temperatures. With propionate (1.1–5.5 mM) as substrate, meth‐anogenic activities at 11 °C were half those at 22 °C. Furthermore, the residual concentration of the substrates was not dependent on temperature. The results suggest that the adaptation of biomass enables the achievement of a high treatment capacity in the anaerobic process even under psychrophilic conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Author information



Additional information

Received: 23 December 1996 / Received last revision: 18 June 1997 / Accepted: 23 June 1997

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kettunen, R., Rintala, J. The effect of low temperature (5–29 °C) and adaptation on the methanogenic activity of biomass. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 48, 570–576 (1997).

Download citation


  • Biomass
  • Sludge
  • Sewage
  • Sewage Sludge
  • Landfill Leachate