The purpose of this module is to learn about the anaerobic digestion of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste. Information will be provided that describe the microbial processes involved during the anaerobic degradation process, methods for estimating biogas potential, and currently used anaerobic digestion technologies.
Anaerobic digestion of the organic fraction of the waste is an environmentally sustainable waste conversion or processing approach that results in the generation of methane and digested material that may be subsequently used as a soil amendment. This process is commonly applied to treat the organic fraction of waste in Europe. Anaerobic digestion is less commonly used in the United States, but is expected to increase because of an increased desire for diversion of organics from municipal solid waste landfills and the recovery of resources from this fraction of waste. This module contains information, web links, and activities that will provide the student an in depth understanding of anaerobic digestion and its role in managing of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste.

By completing this anaerobic digestion module, you will be able to:

  1. Describe inputs/outputs and advantages/disadvantages associated with the anaerobic digestion of solid waste.
  2. Understand and describe the microbial processes involved during the anaerobic digestion of organics and the environmental factors influencing the degradation process.
  3. Perform basic calculations estimating biogas potential and energy recovery.
  4. Describe currently used anaerobic digestion technologies (e.g., low solids, high solids, wet, dry).
  5. Understand how anaerobic digestion of solid waste organics may integrate within a solid waste management scheme.

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