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Towards engineering application: Potential mechanism for enhancing anaerobic digestion of complex organic waste with different types of conductive materials

Zhao, Zhiqiang, Li, Yang, Quan, Xie, Zhang, Yaobin
Water research 2017 v.115 pp. 266-277
acidification, activated carbon, alcohols, anaerobic digestion, electron transfer, engineering, fatty acids, hydrogen, magnetite, metabolism, methane, methane production, methanogens, microbial communities, organic wastes
Conductive materials have been widely investigated to accelerate and stabilize the conversion of organic wastes to methane. However, the potential mechanisms involved with different types of conductive materials are still unclear. In this study, magnetite (Fe3O4) and granular activated carbon (GAC), as the two typical conductive materials, were respectively supplemented to acidogenesis and methanogenesis of a two-phase anaerobic digestion (AD) system in an attempt to explore their different mechanisms. The results showed that, magnetite supplemented to the acidogenic phase could enhance the decomposition of complex organics into simples, but significantly raise the hydrogen partial pressure as well as enrich the hydrogen-utilizing methanogens, which were not expected for aceticlastic methanogenesis known as a mainstream of methanogenesis in most of traditional digesters. GAC supplemented to the methanogenic phase had less influences on syntrophic metabolism of alcohols and fatty acids when acidogenesis was ineffective or out of work. Microbial community analysis suggested that direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) had been established on the GAC, though the insignificant improvement of performances. Once magnetite was supplemented to the acidogenesis to improve the acidification efficiency, the syntrophic conversion of alcohols and fatty acids to methane in the GAC-supplemented methanogenic phase was significantly improved. These results suggested that, DIET was unlikely to participate in the direct decomposition of complex organics, even in the presence of GAC, but it could work effectively once acidogenesis functioned well.