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Impact of feed carbohydrates and nitrogen source on the production of soluble microbial products (SMPs) in anaerobic digestion

Le, Chencheng, Stuckey, David C.
Water research 2017 v.122 pp. 10-16
ammonium chloride, ammonium salts, anaerobic digesters, anaerobic digestion, biogas, byproducts, chemical analysis, chlorination, feeds, fouling, free amino acids, fructose, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, glucose, high performance liquid chromatography, membrane bioreactors, molecular weight, nitrogen, nutrients, solutes, sucrose, urea, volatile fatty acids
Six stirred fill-and-draw batch reactors with a range of carbohydrate feeds (glucose, fructose and sucrose), and nitrogen sources (NH4Cl, urea) at various concentrations were used to investigate the effect of feed composition on the production of soluble microbial products (SMPs) during anaerobic digestion (AD). To gain greater insights into the SMPs produced, the composition of various fractions was analyzed, while the low molecular weight (MW) SMPs generated with different feeds and nutrients were collected and chemically analyzed using GC-MS. Other organic solutes such as free amino acids were determined using HPLC, and this level of chemical analysis has never been carried out in past work because of analytical limitations. It was found that the presence of ammonium salts rather than urea at 200 mg/L stimulated the production of not only volatile fatty acids, but also SMPs of different MW fractions, and reduced the production of biogas significantly. The study also revealed that the type of SMP that dominates in a particular system depends on the chemical characteristics of the feed, and this insight has implications on the composition of the effluent from anaerobic digesters (and their potential chlorination by-products), and membrane fouling in membrane bioreactors.