Microbial Degradation of Organic Wastes at Low Temperatures.
AbstractMicrobial degradation of organic wastes mainly comprising animal and human wastes, is drastically reduced at extreme low temperatures. For the biodegradation of these wastes, technological inputs are required from disciplines like microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, digester modelling and heat transfer at extreme low temperature climates. Various steps in the process of biodegradation have to be studied to formulate an effective organic waste disposal method. Anaerobic digestion of organic wastes is preferred over aerobic waste treatment method, since it yields biogas as a by-product, which in turn can be utilised for heating the digester contents to increase its efficiency. Furthermore, one of the possibilities that can be explored is the utilisation of high rate anaerobic digesters which maintain temperature by means of artificial heating. It is either met by non-conventional energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, or by expending liquid fuels. In addition, insulation of the digester with polymeric materials and immobilisation of slow growing bacterial population may enhance the digester performance to a great extent. In spite of several developments, inoculum adaptation is considered to be one of the essential steps for low temperature anaerobic digestion to obtain methane as a by-product. With advancements in recombinant DNA technology, it may be possible to increase the efficiency of various microbial population that take part in the anaerobic digestion. However, till date, the options available for low temperature biodegradation are digester insulation, inoculum adaptation, and use of high rate/second-generation digesters.
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