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Utilization of semi-natural grassland through integrated generation of solid fuel and biogas from biomass. II. Effects of hydrothermal conditioning and mechanical dehydration on anaerobic digestion of press fluids

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A procedure (Integrated Generation of Solid Fuel and Biogas from Biomass, IFBB) was developed which uses a screw press to separate the readily digestible constituents of mature grassland biomass into a press fluid for conversion into biogas and a fibrous press cake for processing into a solid fuel. Effects of mechanical dehydration and prior hydrothermal conditioning at different temperatures (5, 60 and 80°C) on concentrations of organic compounds in the press fluid and on methane production in batch experiments were evaluated for five semi-natural grasslands typical of mountain areas of Germany. Results show that the crude protein concentration of the press fluids was higher and crude fibre concentration was lower than that of the parent material (herbage conserved as silage). Digestion tests in batch fermenters showed that the methane yield of the press fluids was double [397–426 normal litre (NL) kg−1 volatile solids (VS) after 13 d] that of the whole-crop grassland silage (218 NL kg−1 VS after 27 d) but no consistent effect of higher temperature during conditioning was observed. Within 13 d of fermentation the decomposition of the organic matter (OM) that occurred in the press fluids was 0·90, whereas after 27 d of fermentation more than 0·40 of the OM remained undigested in the whole-crop silage, pointing at a marked reduction in retention time for anaerobic digestion of press fluids in continuous systems. Press fluids produced 0·90 of the maximum methane yield after 4 to 7 d compared with 19 days for the whole-crop silage.
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Keywords: bioenergy; biogas; nature conservation; semi-natural grassland; solid fuel

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Grassland Science and Renewable Plant Resources, University of Kassel, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany 2: Landesbetrieb Hessisches Landeslabor (LHL), Landwirtschaftszentrum Eichhof, Schloss Eichhof, 36251 Bad Hersfeld, Germany

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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