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Source: Stouthamer (13).

Source: Stouthamer (13).

teria, fungi, and often protozoa, produce fermentation products such as ethanol, lactate, butyrate, succinate, and acetate. The acetogenic bacteria (Pellobacter, Desulfovi-brio, Syntrophobacter, Clostridium, Syntrophomonas, and others) (16) produce acetate, formate, bicarbonate and hydrogen from the ethanol, lactate, butyrate, and other organic acids and alcohols with more than two carbons. The methanogenic bacteria use the acetate, formate, and hydrogen as substrates. In anaerobic digesters, about 75% of the available electrons in the complex organics are first transformed to fermentation products other than acetate, formate, and hydrogen, which make up the remaining 25%. More than 60% and as much as 72% of the available electrons is converted to acetate, which is then used by methanogens to form methane. More than 25% of the available electrons are converted to hydrogen before being incorporated into methane (2). Thiele and Zeikus (15) and Thiele (16) reviewed mixed culture interactions in meth-anogenesis and provided information on selected anaerobic microorganisms that are active in anaerobic digestion.

Many microorganisms that are active in environmental microbiology have been studied and described; however, each year many new organisms are described for the first time (17). New anaerobic treatment processes for specific applications, such as nitroaromatic munitions compounds, are being developed (18). Although anaerobic processes are often slower than aerobic processes, they have been found to be economically attractive in a wide variety of applications.

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