Thermophilic aerobic wastewater treatment, process performance, biomass characteristics, and effluent quality

J. Suvilampi, J. Rintala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Thermophilic aerobic wastewater treatment is reviewed. Thermophilic processes have been studied in laboratory and pilot-scale while full-scale applications are rare. The paper focuses on the microbiology of aerobic thermophiles, performance of the aerobic wastewater treatments, sludge yield, and alternatives to enhance performance of the thermophilic process. Thermophilic processes have been shown to operate under markedly high loading rates (30-180 kg COD m-3d-1). Reported sludge production values under thermophilic conditions vary between 0.05 and 0.3 kg SS kg CODremoved, which are about the same or lower than generally obtained in mesophilic processes. Compared to analogous mesophilic treatment, thermophilic treatment commonly suffers from poorer effluent quality, measured by lower total COD and filtrated (GF-A) COD removals. However, in the removal of soluble (bacterial membrane filtered) COD both mesophilic and thermophilic treatments have produced similar results. Sludge settleability in thermophilic processes have been reported to be better or poorer than in analogous mesophilic processes, although cases with better settling properties are rare. Combining thermophilic with mesophilic treatment or ultrafiltration may in some cases markedly improve effluent quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-51
Number of pages17
JournalReviews in Environmental Science and Bio-Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Aerobic wastewater treatment
  • Process efficiency
  • Thermophilic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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