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Anaerobic membrane bioreactors and the influence of space velocity and biomass concentration on methane production for liquid dairy manure

Wallace, James M., Safferman, Steven I.
Biomass and bioenergy 2014 v.66 pp. 143-150
biomass, bioreactors, crops, dairy manure, enzymes, irrigation water, mass transfer, methane, methane production, nitrogen, nutrient management, nutrients, phosphorus, sand, volatile fatty acids
Two pilot-scale anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) and a control completely mixed digester (CMD) were constructed to evaluate the influence of space velocity and biomass concentration on methane production for sand separated dairy manure. A negative impact on methane production resulted with operating the AnMBR system at 972 μHz–2960 μHz but no impact was found when operating at 69 μHz and 312 μHz. Operating at 69 μHz–350 μHz is realistic for a field installation. Despite the higher biomass concentration, the methane production of the AnMBRs was nearly equal to the CMD. An AnMBR with 69 μHz was operated equivalent to a CMD by returning all permeate to the digester tank and removing excess biomass directly from the reactor tank resulting in a hydraulic retention time (HRT) equal to the solids retention time (SRT). When using sand separated dairy manure and an HRT (and equal SRT) of 12 d, both systems produced methane at an equal rate, suggesting that the pump/membrane system did not influence methane production. The most likely reason was mass transfer limitations of hydrolytic enzymes. Based on methane production and volatile fatty acids analysis, it appears the fermentable substrate available for degradation was similar. The AnMBR proved to have benefit as part of an integrated nutrient management system that produced water that is virtually free of particulate nutrients, especially phosphorus. This enables the irrigation of the water to crops that need nitrogen and the efficient movement of phosphorus, as a solid, to needed locations.