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Biogas production from brewery spent grain as a mono-substrate in a two-stage process composed of solid-state anaerobic digestion and granular biomass reactors

Panjičko, Mario, Zupančič, Gregor D., Fanedl, Lijana, Logar, Romana Marinšek, Tišma, Marina, Zelić, Bruno
Journal of cleaner production 2017 v.166 pp. 519-529
anaerobic digestion, bacterial communities, biogas, biomass, carbon nitrogen ratio, cellulose, community structure, hemicellulose, hydrolysis, lignin, methane production, p-cresol, total solids
Anaerobic digestion of brewery spent grain as a mono-substrate was studied. Brewery spent grain is a substrate consisting largely of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, which are difficult to degrade anaerobically, mostly due to the presence of degradation products, such as phenolic compounds, which cause process inhibition. Therefore, a two-stage system was used for anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion was phase separated in a solid-state anaerobic digestion reactor, where microbiological hydrolysis and acidogenesis occurred and in a granular biomass reactor where mostly methanogenesis was performed. The overall process exhibited total solids degradation efficiency between 75.9 and 83.0%. Average specific biogas production was 414 ± 32 L/kg, whereas biomethane production was 224 ± 34 L/kg of added total solids. Granular biomass after adaptation exhibited stable operation at substrate C/N ratios in range 0.16–4.68. p-cresol was present in concentrations up to 45 mg/L and during the process was successfully degraded by granular biomass. The excellent adaptability of granular biomass was confirmed by 68.2% shift in bacterial and a 31.8% shift in archaeal community structure in a granular biomass reactor. The structure of the bacterial community from granular biomass reactor and solid-state anaerobic digestion reactor remained 79.4% similar at the end of the experiment, whereas archaeal community was only 31.6% similar. The process exhibited stable operation for 198 days, which shows that brewery spent grain can be successfully anaerobically digested and used for biogas production.