The effect of anaerobic biomass drying and exposure to air on their recovery and evolution Academic Article uri icon


  • The main goal of this study was to test the effect of various drying methods of granular anaerobic biomass on biomass survival, potential and rate of methane re-production, and structure. This may facilitate the development of drying methods to preserve excess anaerobic biomass in dry form for re-inoculation of existing digesters after process failure or wash out or for the start-up of new digesters. To that end, anaerobic granular biomass was collected from an up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor. The biomass was dried using two alternative methods: oven with air circulation at 50 °C for 24 h (DAO), and vacuum rotary evaporator at anaerobic conditions (DAN). For comparison, the control was a biomass with no drying (WET). Biomass samples were tested for specific methanogenic activity using synthetic wastewater. The microbial communities were also tested for viability using the LIVE/DEAD kit, and total biomass was initially quantified by qPCR targeting 16S rRNA genes. In addition, the mcrA functional gene was used s a target for the detection of the most abundant methanogens. Basic bacterial morphology classification was done by VIT(®) gene probe technology using a fluorescence microscope. Dried DAN and DAO biomasses required approximately four operational runs to recover their initial methanogenic activity compared to WET biomass. LIVE/DEAD results showed clear increases in the proportions of the viable biomass of the total bacterial communities over time, especially for the DAN and DAO samples. A comparison of the qPCR results of both DAN and DAO to the WET biomass showed that the methanogenic mcrA gene fraction of the total biomass population of 16S rRNA gene concentrations decreased moderately by about 17.2% in the samples of DAO and by approximately 6.7% in the samples of DAN over all runs after Run1.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014