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Water Sci Technol. 2008;58(7):1461-6. doi: 10.2166/wst.2008.449.

The effect of moisture content and alkalinity on the anaerobic biodegradation of pit latrine sludge.

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Université P. Cézanne, Avenue Escadrille Normandie-Niemen, 13397 Marseille, France.


This study investigated the effect of additional moisture and/or alkalinity on the rate of anaerobic digestion in samples of material obtained from pit latrines. In modified serum bottle tests it was shown that poor gas production rates were observed from all experiments with material collected at the lower part of one pit. Using material from the top layer of a second pit it was shown that experimental bottles produced significant amounts of gas for all treatments. Analysis of data indicated that treatment with additional alkalinity had no discernible effect on anaerobic gas production rates, but that there was some correlation between moisture content and gas production rate. These results did not support the hypothesis that low pH buffering capacity was a limiting factor in the rate of digestion of pit latrine sludge, but confirmed that low moisture content could reduce the rate of stabilisation. This implies that increasing the moisture content in a pit latrine has the potential to increase biological stabilisation rates in the pit when the material is not already well-stabilised.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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