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Doctoral thesis, 2009

Hygiene aspects of the biogas process with emphasis on spore-forming bacteria

Bagge ,Elisabeth


Biogas is a renewable source of energy which can be obtained from processing of biowaste. The digested residues can be used as fertiliser. Biowaste intended for biogas production contains pathogenic micro-organisms. A pre-pasteurisation step at 70°C for 60 min before anaerobic digestion reduces non spore-forming bacteria such as Salmonella spp. To maintain the standard of the digested residues it must be handled in a strictly hygienic manner to avoid recontamination and re-growth of bacteria. The risk of contamination is particularly high when digested residues are transported in the same vehicles as the raw material. However, heat treatment at 70°C for 60 min will not reduce spore-forming bacteria such as Bacillus spp. and Clostridium spp. Spore-forming bacteria, including those that cause serious diseases, can be present in substrate intended for biogas production. The number of species and the quantity of Bacillus spp. and Clostridium spp. in manure, slaughterhouse waste and in samples from different stages during the biogas process were investigated. The number of species of clostridia seemed to decrease following digestion, likewise the quantity. However, Bacillus spp. seemed to pass unaffected through the biogas process. In laboratory-scale experiments the effects on clostridia during pasteurisation and digestion were investigated. Pathogenic clostridia were inoculated in substrates from homogenisation tanks and digester tanks. The inoculated clostridia remained after pasteurisation, but the impacts of digestion differ between different species. Culture followed by identification of C. chauvoei by PCR in samples from cattle died from blackleg, is faster and safer than culture followed by biochemical identification of C. chauvoei. However, for environmental samples the PCR method is not practically applicable for detection of C. chauvoei. To avoid spreading of diseases via biogas plants when digested residues are spread on arable land, a pasteurisation stage at 70°C for 60 min before anaerobic digestion gives adequate reduction of most non spore-forming bacteria, such as salmonella. However, caution should be exercised before digested residues are spread in areas without endemic problems of pathogenic spore-forming bacteria. In Sweden, official recommendation is that digested residues from biogas plants only should be applied on arable land, and not on grasslands for animal pasture.


bacillus; clostridium; biogas; agricultural wastes; pcr; hygiene; safety; disease control; sweden

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2009, number: 2009:28
ISBN: 9789186195755
Publisher: Department of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Bagge, Elisabeth
National Veterinary Institute (SVA)
Bagge, Elisabeth
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biomedical Science and Veterinary Public Health

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