Process performance and microbial community structure in thermophilic trickling biofilter reactors for biogas upgrading

Hugo Porté, Panagiotis Kougias*, Natalia Alfaro, Laura Treu, Stefano Campanaro, Irini Angelidaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study evaluated the process performance and determined the microbial community structure of two lab-scale thermophilic trickling biofilter reactors used for biological methanation of hydrogen and carbon-dioxide for a total period of 94 days. Stable and robust operation was achieved by means of a single-pass gas flow. The quality of the output gas (>97%) was comparable to the methane purity achieved by commercial biogas upgrading systems fulfilling the specifications to be used as substitute to natural gas. The reactors' methane productivity reached >1.7 LCH4/(LR·d) at hydrogen loading rate of 7.2 LH2/(LR·d). The spatial distribution of the microbial consortia localized in the liquid media and biofilm enabled us to gain a deeper understanding on how the microbiome is structured inside the trickling biofilter. Sequencing results revealed a significant predominance of Methanothermobacter sp. in the biofilm. Unknown members of the class Clostridia were highly abundant in biofilm and liquid media, while acetate utilising bacteria predominated in liquid samples.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)529-538
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Biomethanation
  • Biogas upgrading
  • Trickling biofilter
  • Power-to-gas

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