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Performance evaluation of mesophilic semi-continuous anaerobic digestion of high-temperature thermally pre-treated olive mill solid waste

Serrano, Antonio, Fermoso, Fernando G., Alonso-Fariñas, Bernabé, Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, Guillermo, López, Sergio, Fernandez-Bolaños, Juan, Borja, Rafael
Waste management 2019 v.87 pp. 250-257
anaerobic digesters, anaerobic digestion, biorefining, food processing wastes, organic matter, phenol, prices, profitability, volatile fatty acids, waste management
The aim of the present work was to evaluate the effects of a thermal pre-treatment of olive mill solid waste (OMSW) and phenol extraction process on the semi-continuous anaerobic digestion of this pre-treated waste during a prolonged operational period (275 days) in order to assess the organic loading rates (OLR) of 1 ad 2 g Volatile Solids (VS)/(L·d). The anaerobic digestion of thermally pre-treated and de-phenolized OMSW was stable at an OLR of 1 g VS/(L·d), which permitted a specific production rate of 172 ± 60 mL CH4/(g VS·d). However, the system was not able to operate at an OLR of 2 g VS/(L·d), which resulted in the total failure of the process. Regardless of the applied OLR, the phenolic compounds were effectively degraded and the inhibition thresholds were not reached. The inhibition of the anaerobic digestion process at an OLR of 2 g VS/(L·d) was probably due to the overloading of the system, indicated by the accumulation of organic matter and volatile fatty acids. The operation of the anaerobic digester under stable conditions allowed for high profitability for the proposed bio-refinery concept, which would still be profitable at a phenol extract price above 51.8 €/kg, which is 90% lower than the current price of 520 €/kg.