African Journal of
Environmental Science and Technology

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Environ. Sci. Technol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0786
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJEST
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 1126

Full Length Research Paper

An evaluation of a mesophilic reactor for treating wastewater from a Zimbabwean potato-processing plant

Manhokwe S.1, Parawira W.2* and Tekere, M.3
  1University of Zimbabwe, Department of Biochemistry, P. Bag MP167 Mt. Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe. 2University of Zimbabwe, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Family Sciences, P. O. Box MP167 Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe. 3University of South Africa, Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, P. O. Box X6, Florida, 1710, South Africa.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 19 March 2009
  •  Published: 30 April 2009



An evaluation of anaerobic treatment of potato-processing wastewater using an up flow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (UASB) reactor at 37°C was conducted. Wastewater from a potato-processing plant in Harare, with an average of 6.8 g COD/l, (COD = chemical oxygen demand) a high concentration of total solids (up to 6725 mg/l) and low pH of 4 - 4.9 was subjected to anaerobic treatment in an UASB reactor. The start up period, which was indicated by gas production and stabilization of COD reduction was 21 days. The organic loading rates (OLRs) investigated varied between 1.3 g COD/l/d and 13.1 g COD/l/d, the maximum methane yield was 0.3 l/g CODremoved at an organic loading rate of 6.6 g COD/l/d.  An increase in OLRs to values above 13.1 g COD/ l/d resulted in digester failure. The maximum treatment efficiency (TE) in terms of COD reduction achieved was 90% at a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 2.1 d and OLR of 3.3 g COD/l/d. The TE was reduced at higher reactor influent velocities, with a minimum TE (71%) recorded at HRT of 0.5 d. Total solids (TS) removal was inconsistent with an average reduction around 50% and phosphorus removal was poor and erratic. pH from the effluent oscillated around 7 with a notable decrease from 7.8 to 6.2 at HRT of 0.5 d. Based on these observations, the UASB process has potential to treat potato-processing wastewater as a pretreatment step before discharge into municipal sewerage system of Harare. 


Key words: UASB reactor, potato wastewater, anaerobic digestion, methane yield, organic loading rate.