Oxygen Effects in Anaerobic Digestion – A Review

Deshai Botheju*, Rune Bakke
Telemark University College, Kjølnes Ring 56, P.O. Box 203, NO-3901, Porsgrunn, Norway.

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© 2011 Botheju and Bakke.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Telemark University College, Kjølnes Ring 56, P.O. Box 203, NO-3901, Porsgrunn, Norway: Tel: +4745075165; Fax: +4735575001; E-mail:


This article reviews the experimental and theoretical studies conducted on the possible effects of oxygen in biogas generating anaerobic digesters. The interactions of oxygen with various biochemical processes associated with anaerobic digestion are discussed together with other relevant aspects. The conventional perception of oxygen being merely toxic in anaerobic digestion (AD) is refuted. Digesters can withstand significant levels of oxygenation without drastic negative impacts. Limited quantities of oxygen can even lead to improved AD reactor performance under certain operating conditions. Co-existence of anaerobic and aerobic cultures in a single bioreactor environment has been demonstrated. It is shown that the partial aeration assisted AD can serve as a beneficial treatment strategy for simultaneous waste treatment and energy generation, for a multitude of organic waste categories.

Keywords: Aeration, anaerobic digestion, hydrolysis, inhibition, methane, oxygen effects.