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Comparison of liquid and dewatered digestate as inoculum for anaerobic digestion of organic solid wastes

Hosseini Koupaie, E., Azizi, A., Bazyar Lakeh, A.A., Hafez, H., Elbeshbishy, E.
Waste management 2019 v.87 pp. 228-236
activated sludge, ammonia, anaerobic digesters, anaerobic digestion, biohydrogen, cattle manure, heavy metals, industrial wastes, inoculum, liquids, methane, methane production, organic matter, solid wastes, volatile fatty acids, waste management
In this study, the application of liquid and dewatered digestate was compared for the inoculation of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process. In addition to the specific methanogenic activity and biohydrogen potential tests, biochemical methane potential assay was also conducted using four different types of municipal and industrial waste streams (primary sludge, thickened waste activated sludge, source separated organics, and cattle manure). The specific methanogenic activity of the digestate cake (5.0 ± 0.5 mL-CH4/g-VSS.d) was higher than that of the liquid digestate (3.4 ± 0.2 mL-CH4/g-VSS.d) for the food to microorganism ratio of 0.5. The BMP results also revealed that regardless of the type of the substrate used, the application of the digestate cake as inoculum achieved statistically significantly higher methane production rate compared to the utilization of liquid digestate, most likely due to the lower concentration of dissolved contents (i.e., ammonia, soluble organic matter, heavy metals, etc.) in the diluted digestate cake. Despite the increased process rate, no statistically significant effect of the type of the inoculum was observed on the ultimate methane yield. The biohydrogen potential test revealed the similar performance of the digestate- and digestate cake-inoculated digesters in terms of biohydrogen and volatile fatty acids production. The findings of this study suggest that the digestate cake can be used as an effective alternative to the liquid digestate for the inoculation of full-scale anaerobic digesters, reducing the transportation volume by up to 90%.