Effects of barium on the pathways of anaerobic digestion

V. Wyman, A. Serrano*, R. Borja, A. Jiménez, A. Carvajal, M. Lenz, J. Bartacek, F.G. Fermoso

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The sufficient presence of trace elements (TE) is essential for anaerobic digestion. Barium (Ba) is considered a non-essential trace element that can be collaterally added to digesters as part of low-cost trace element sources or because of its presence in some feedstocks, such as crude glycerol. In the present study, the impact of Ba supplementation (2–2000 mg/L) on each stage of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process was evaluated using pure substrates (i.e., cellulose, glucose, a mixture of volatile fatty acids, sodium acetate and hydrogen) as well as a complex substrate (i.e., dried green fodder). Hydrolytic activity was affected at dosages higher than 200 mg Ba/L, whereas cellulose degradation was completely inhibited at 2000 mg Ba/L. The negative effects of the addition of Ba to methane production were observed only in the hydrolytic activity, and no effects were detected at any barium dosage in the subsequent anaerobic steps. Because Ba does not have a reported role as a cofactor of enzymes, this response could have been due to a direct inhibitory effect, a variation in the bioavailability of other trace elements, or even the availability of CO2/SO4 through precipitation as Ba-carbonates and sulphates. The results showed that the addition of Ba modified the chemical equilibrium of the studied system by varying the soluble concentration of some TEs and therefore their bioavailability. The highest variation was detected in the soluble concentration of zinc, which increased as the amount of Ba increased. Although little research has shown that Ba has some utility in anaerobic processes, its addition must be carefully monitored to avoid an undesirable modification of the chemical equilibrium in the system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-403
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019


  • Hydrolysis
  • Metal bioavailability
  • Trace element dosing
  • Trace elements


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