Modelling sodium inhibition on the anaerobic digestion process

Joseph C. Akunna, Anthony Hierholtzer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Sodium is a known process inhibitor in anaerobic systems and impacts on methanogens through an increase of osmotic pressure or complete dehydration of microorganisms. In this study, a combination of experimental and modelling approaches has been employed to determine and simulate sodium inhibition on the anaerobic digestion process. The ADM1, which has been successfully used in modelling anaerobic processes, has been modified to include an extra inhibition function that considers the effect of sodium on acetoclastic methanogens and the impact on biogas production and composition. A non-competitive inhibition function was added to the rate of acetate uptake for the model to take into account sodium toxicity. Experimental studies consisted of both batch and reactor tests to obtain parameters for model calibration and validation. The calibrated model was used to predict the effect of ammonia nitrogen on sodium toxicity. It was found that relatively low sodium levels can bring about significant levels of process inhibition in the presence of high levels of ammonia. On the other hand, where the concentration of ammonia is relatively low, the tolerance threshold for sodium ions increases. Hence, care must be taken in the use of sodium hydroxide for pH adjustment during anaerobic digestion of protein-rich substrates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1565-1573
    Number of pages9
    JournalWater Science and Technology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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