The influence of selected pharmaceuticals on biogas production from laboratory and real anaerobic sludge

  • Milota Fáberová
  • Lucia Ivanová
  • Petra Szabová
  • Magdalena Štolcová
  • Igor BodíkEmail author
Research Article


The presented study summarizes laboratory tests results to define the inhibition effect of selected pharmaceuticals on biogas production under anaerobic digestion conditions. Two sets of inhibition tests were realized: (i) with real anaerobic sludge (from municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) where sludge is present and includes a wide spectrum of pharmaceuticals over a long period) and (ii) with laboratory sludge (sludge without pharmaceuticals). Methanogenic tests lasting 20 days were performed with three analgesics (diclofenac, ibuprofen, and tramadol), two antibiotics (amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin), β-blocker (atenolol), three psychoactive compounds (carbamazepine, caffeine, and cotinine), and a mixture of these compounds. All tests were performed with two concentrations of pharmaceuticals (10 μg/L and 500 μg/L). Results of the methanogenic tests showed the different behaviors of the investigated sludges in the presence of individual pharmaceuticals. Stimulation of anaerobic digestion was mostly detected for laboratory (unadapted) sludge (e.g., the addition of ibuprofen at a concentration of 500 μg/L increased biogas production by 61%). On the other hand, pharmaceuticals inhibited biogas production for real sludge (e.g., the addition of ciprofloxacin 500 μg/L decreased biogas production by 52%).


Sewage sludge Anaerobic fermentation Micropollutants Inhibition Stimulation Wastewater 


Funding information

This work was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contract no. APVV 0122-12 and APVV 17-119.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Chemical and Food TechnologySlovak University of Technology in BratislavaBratislavaSlovak Republic
  2. 2.Department of Organic Technology, Faculty of Chemical and Food TechnologySlovak University of Technology in BratislavaBratislavaSlovak Republic

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