Can aquatic worms enhance methane production from waste activated sludge?

Antonio Serrano, Tim L.G. Hendrickx, Hellen Elissen, Bob Laarhoven, Cees J.N. Buisman, Hardy Temmink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Although literature suggests that aquatic worms can help to enhance the methane production from excess activated sludge, clear evidence for this is missing. Therefore, anaerobic digestion tests were performed at 20 and at 30 °C with sludge from a high-loaded membrane bioreactor, the aquatic worm Lumbriculus variegatus, feces from these worms and with mixtures of these substrates. A significant synergistic effect of the worms or their feces on methane production from the high-loaded sludge or on its digestion rate was not observed. However, a positive effect on low-loaded activated sludge, which generally has a lower anaerobic biodegradability, cannot be excluded. The results furthermore showed that the high-loaded sludge provides an excellent feed for L. variegatus, which is promising for concepts where worm biomass is considered a resource for technical grade products such as coatings and glues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-57
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Aquatic worms
  • Lumbriculus variegatus
  • Waste sludge


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