Anaerobic microorganisms do not require DO in the water to function. They obtain their oxygen requirement from the oxygen chemically contained in organic materials.
Anaerobic decomposition involves two separate but interrelated steps. First, the acid-producing bacteria decompose the dissolved organic waste to organic acids, such as acetic, propionic, and butyric acid (see Figure 7.22.4). The organic acids are then further decomposed by methane-producing bacteria to the end products of methane, carbon dioxide, and water. Effective operation requires a balance between acid production and breakdown because methane producers are sensitive to the concentration of volatile acids.
As a general rule, inhibition occurs at volatile acid concentrations in excess of 2000 mg/l. This tolerance level also depends on the concentration of ammonia and other cations. The maximum alkalinity concentration is approximately 2000 mg/l as CaCO3. As an operational guide, the alkalinity concentration should be greater than 1.67 times the volatile acids concentration.
The decomposition of organic acids to methane and carbon dioxide can be generalized as follows:
Was this article helpful?