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Abstract

In anaerobic digestion, studies of feeding frequency have produced conflicting results. Hence, the effect of feeding frequency on process variables and microbial community structure was investigated by comparing a laboratory-scale digester fed steam exploded food waste 10 times daily vs. one fed an equivalent amount once daily. The Frequently Fed Digester (FFD) produced on average 20% more methane and had lower effluent concentrations of long-chain fatty acids. Greater daily fluctuations in acetate, pH and biogas production rate could explain the lower specific methane yield and β-oxidation. Feeding frequency also influenced the microbial community whereby Tenericutes (42%) dominated in FFD but Firmicutes (31%) was most abundant in the Daily Fed Digester (DFD). Feeding frequency effects are therefore postulated to occur more often in digesters fed labile feedstocks at high organic loading rates.

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Abstract

Post-anaerobic digestion (PAD) treatment technologies have been suggested for anaerobic digestion (AD) to improve process efficiency and assure hygenization of organic waste. Because AD reduces the amount of organic waste, PAD can be applied to a much smaller volume of waste compared to pre-digestion treatment, thereby improving efficiency. In this study, dewatered digestate cakes from two different AD plants were thermally hydrolyzed and dewatered, and the liquid fraction was recirculated to a semi-continuous AD reactor. The thermal hydrolysis was more efficient in relation to methane yields and extent of dewaterability for the cake from a plant treating waste activated sludge, than the cake from a plant treating source separated food waste (SSFW). Temperatures above 165 °C yielded the best results. Post-treatment improved volumetric methane yields by 7% and the COD-reduction increased from 68% to 74% in a mesophilic (37 °C) semi-continuous system despite lowering the solid retention time (from 17 to 14 days) compared to a conventional system with pre-treatment of feed substrates at 70 °C. Results from thermogravimetric analysis showed an expected increase in maximum TS content of dewatered digestate cake from 34% up to 46% for the SSFW digestate cake, and from 17% up to 43% in the sludge digestate cake, after the PAD thermal hydrolysis process (PAD-THP). The increased dewatering alone accounts for a reduction in wet mass of cake leaving the plant of 60% in the case of sludge digestate cake. Additionaly, the increased VS-reduction will contribute to further reduce the mass of wet cake.

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Abstract

Purpose The main purposes of the study were to assess the NPK fertilizer value of biogas digestates in different soils and to evaluate the risk of unwanted nutrient leaching. Methods The fertilizer value of digestates from anaerobic digesters was investigated in a greenhouse pot experiment with wheat in three different soils; silt, loam and sand. The digestates were based on different feedstock and had a low, dry matter content. The fertilizing effect of digestates was compared to mineral fertilizer and manure. To investigate the fate of excess nutrients in soil after the growing season, the pots were leached after harvest. A complementary soil column leaching experiment without plants was carried out in the laboratory. Results The concentration of ammonium in digestates provided a good indicator of the nitrogen fertilizer value of the digestates. In the silt and loam, the ammonium N fraction in digestates had a fertilizer replacement value equal to that of mineral fertilizer N, whereas the replacement value was higher in the nutrient poor sandy soil. Digestates often have a ratio between nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which is not favourable for plant growth. However, the suboptimal balance did not result in reduced plant growth or unwanted leaching from soil. Conclusions The results show that digestates from biogas production based on fundamentally different feedstock are promising as NPK fertilizers. The N fertilization can simply be based on the digestate NH4+ concentration and, at least for wheat production, considerable variation in the concentrations of K and P can be tolerated.

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Abstract

In this work, performance and microbial structure of a digestion (food waste-only) and a co-digestion process (mixture of cow manure and food waste) were studied at mesophilic (37°C) and thermophilic (55°C) temperatures. The highest methane yield (480mL/g VS) was observed in the mesophilic digester (MDi) fed with food waste alone. The mesophilic co-digestion of food waste and manure (McoDi) yielded 26% more methane than the sum of individual digestions of manure and food waste. The main volatile fatty acid (VFA) in the mesophilic systems was acetate, averaging 93 and 172mg/L for McoDi and MDi, respectively. Acetate (2150mg/L) and propionate (833mg/L) were the main VFAs in the thermophilic digester (TDi), while propionate (163mg/L) was the major VFA in the thermophilic co-digester (TcoDi). The dominant bacteria in MDi was Chlorofexi (54%), while Firmicutes was dominant in McoDi (60%). For the mesophilic reactors, the dominant archaea was Methanosaeta in MDi, while Methanobacterium and Methanosaeta had similar abundance in McoDi. In the thermophilic systems, the dominant bacteria were Thermotogae, Firmicutes and Synergistetes in both digesters, however, the relative abundance of these phyla were diferent. For archaea, the genus Methanothermobacter were entirely dominant in both TDi and TcoDi.

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Abstract

Soil application of organic residues from anaerobic digestion of municipal food waste and/or sewage sludge may introduce considerable amounts of heavy metals into the environment. In a column leaching experiment, mobility and release of Cu, Ni and Zn were investigated in three contrasting soils (sand, silt, loam) fertilized with biogas digestates of different origin. The effect of commercial digestates, based on food waste and sewage sludge, was compared to that of experimental digestates based on animal manure and whey permeate with or without fish ensilage, as well as untreated manure, mineral fertilizer and an untreated control. Manure and digestates were added to the columns as fresh material at equal amounts of available nitrogen. The experiment simulated high-intensity rainfall over a period of 7 days. In general, soil treated with the commercial digestates with higher original metal content showed less environmental impact in terms of Ni, Cu and Zn leaching than that treated with experimental digestates with lower original metal content and less than when animal manure or mineral fertilizer was applied. Although effects of digestate application on metal mobility in soils were seen in conditions of extreme precipitation, the leached concentrations of metals were below limitations published by the WHO but still significantly higher than that measured for control soils.