Anaerobic treatment of a recalcitrant distillery wastewater by a thermophilic UASB reactor

Hideki Harada, Shigeki Uemura, Ann Cheng Chen, Jayabalasingham Jayadevan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


The feasibility of thermophilic (55°C) anaerobic treatment of an alcohol distillery wastewater (cane molasses vinasse) was studied using a 140 l upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor for a period of 430 days. Organic loading rates were applied up to 28 kg chemical oxygen demand (COD) m-3 d-1 by reducing hydraulic retention time (HRT) at a fixed influent concentration of 10 g COD l-1. Chemical oxygen demand removals during the entire experimental period were relatively low (39-67%), while biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) removals were more satisfactory (more than 80%). The biodegradability of the vinasse used in this study was assessed by a serum vial test. The test revealed that methane production rates from the vinasse were only 1/36, 1/32, 1/25 and 1/23 as great as those from H2/CO2, acetate, glucose and another type of vinasse (malt), respectively. The poor performance of the reactor for COD elimination can probably be attributed to the low degradability of the waste itself. Methanogenic activity of the retained sludge increased 24 times, for acetate, and 13 times, for H2/CO2, as much as that of the inoculum sludge. The optimum temperature of methanogenic activity of the sludge depended on the substrate used; i.e. 60°C for acetate, 60-65°C for H2/CO2, and around 55°C for the waste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradability
  • Granular sludge
  • Thermophilic anaerobic digestion,
  • Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor
  • Vinasse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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