Volatile fatty acids build-up and its effect on E. coli inactivation during excreta stabilisation in single-stage and two-stage systems

Joy Riungu*, Mariska Ronteltap, Jules B. van Lier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Digestion and co-digestion of faecal matter collected from urine diverting dehydrating toilet faeces (UDDT-F) and mixed organic market waste (OMW) was studied in single stage pilot scale mesophilic plug-flow anaerobic reactors at UDDT-F:OMW ratios 4:1 and 1:0. Escherichia coli inactivation and volatile fatty acids (VFA) build-up was monitored at sampling points located along the reactor profile. When applying UDDT-F:OMW ratio of 4:1 at 12% total solids (TS), E. coli inactivation achieved was 2.3 log times higher than that achieved in UDDT-F:OMW ratio of 1:0. In subsequent trials, a two-stage reactor was researched, applying a UDDT-F:OMW ratio of 4:1 and 10 or 12% TS slurry concentrations. Highest VFA concentrations of 16.3 ± 1.3 g/L were obtained at a pH of 4.9 in the hydrolysis/ acidogenesis reactor, applying a UDDT-F:OMW ratio of 4:1 and 12% TS, corresponding to a non-dissociated (ND)-VFA concentration of 6.9 ± 2.0 g/L. The corresponding decay rate reached a value of 1.6 per day. In the subsequent methanogenic plug-flow reactor, a decay rate of 1.1 per day was attained within the first third part of the reactor length, which declined to 0.6 per day within the last third part of the reactor length. Results show that a two-stage system is an efficient way to enhance pathogen inactivation during anaerobic digestion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-267
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Anaerobic (CO) digestion
  • Non-dissociated volatile fatty acids
  • Pathogen inactivation
  • UDDT faeces


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