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The anaerobic digestion is a well-known method in waste management of biodegradable wastes to transform waste to energy. Proper digestion requires optimal fermentation conditions to improve the quality and yield of biogas.

The objective of this study was to characterize the biodegradation process of synthetic and organic wastewater. Microalgae (Chlorella vulgaris) were utilized as a bioindicator for anaerobic digestion and monitoring of the fermentation process. Besides bioindication, the viability of the microalgae and the chlorophyll concentration were also assessed in such fermentation processes, since microalgae can be a potential source for biofuel production and a plant nutrient.

The biodegradation process was studied for a month in an anaerobic tank reactor. The fermentation processes and lengths of the fermentation stages were successfully monitored and separately identified based on the pH and gas development. Furthermore, the amount and dynamics of the biogas yield also revealed that the fermentation process was about 510 hours in both cases. In contrast, increased temperature in thermophilic range (45°C) accelerates the degradation processes and resulted in shorter hydrolysis (60 hours), acetogenesis (24 hours) and longer methanogenesis (81 hours) stages, where higher biogas yield was also achieved (59.3%). During the process, the concentration of nutrients showed logarithmical tendencies and COD showed power tendency in time. The extent and the direction of the changes were in correspondence with microalgae activity. In thermophilic circumstances, living microalgae biomass dropped significantly without recovery therefore such an environment is not a viable option for microalgae growth. Moreover, dead microalgae biomass seems to act as a substrate for fermentation slightly increasing the concentration of some nutrients in the wastewater.

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