Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion

13th December 2016

Thermophilic aerobic digestion (TAD) is essentially a composting process which can be used to treat waste food or other organic materials in a liquid slurry or semi-solid form.

Key points



In this guide we detail the basic steps in the thermophilic digestion AD process. Interest in the thermophilic process have developed based on the facts that higher temperatures reduce pathogens and thermophilic temperatures provide more rapid reaction rates than mesophilic temperature. 

To read the steps, please use chapters below:  

The process



To find information related to that contained in this report, please use the following links:

In vessel composting (IVC) >>
Open windrow composting >>
Anaerobic digestion: A definition for local authorities >>

The process

  1. Feedstock is fed into a digester where air is forced through the material to encourage the growth of aerobic microbes.
  2. The process is exothermic and the heat is maintained at thermophilic conditions of between 55-65oC.
  3. The retention time of the process is usually between two and five days, as degradation is rapid.
  4. Following digestion the digestate is usually dewatered or dried. The output is a bio-fertiliser.


Thermophilic aerobic digestion has been used in the waste water industry for the treatment of sewage sludges.

Its use is relatively new for food waste, although there are some small pilot-scale plants in the UK and some commercial ones in development.

Where next?

Want to know more about anaerobic digestion? Take a look at our reports, guides, tools and case studies for further information:

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