Anaerobic biodegradation of spent sulphite liquor in a UASB reactor

T.G. Jantsch, Irini Angelidaki, Jens Ejbye Schmidt, B.E. Braña de Hvidsten, Birgitte Kiær Ahring

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Anaerobic biodegradation of fermented spent sulphite liquor, SSL, which is produced during the manufacture of sulphite pulp, was investigated. SSL contains a high concentration of lignin products in addition to hemicellulose and has a very high COD load (173 g COD l1). Batch experiments with diluted SSL and pretreated SSL indicated a potential of 12–22 l methane per litre SSL, which corresponds to 0.13–0.22 l methane ðg VSÞ1 and COD removal of up to 37%. COD removal in a mesophilic upflow anaerobic sludge blanket, UASB, reactor ranged from10% to 31% at an organic loading rate, OLR, of 10–51 g ðl dÞ1 and hydraulic retention time from 3.7 to 1.5 days. The biogas productivity was 3 l ðlreactor dÞ1, with a yield of 0.05 l gas ðg VSÞ1. These results suggest that anaerobic digestion in UASB reactors may provide a new alternative for the treatment of SSL to other treatment strategies such as incineration. Although the total COD reduction achieved is limited, bioenergy is produced and readily biodegradable matter is removed causing less load on post-treatment installations. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)15-20
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Spent sulphite liquor
  • Pulp wastewater
  • UASB reactors
  • Sludge adaptation
  • Anaerobic digestion

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