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Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Municipal Sludge and Biodiesel Fuel Production By-Products

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Biodiesel fuel is an attractive renewable energy alternative that generates glycerol-rich byproducts. Stable anaerobic sludge digestion with continuously- or intermittently-fed biodiesel waste was demonstrated. Two parallel completely-mixed laboratory-scale mesophilic digesters were batch-fed once daily with municipal combined primary and secondary wastewater sludges at 15-day SRTs. The co-digester received daily biodiesel waste additions that increased its biodegradable COD load by 40% over that for the parallel control digester fed only with sludge. Without acclimation about 1.0% of the added biodiesel COD accumulated, but without VFA accumulation. After 32 days of acclimation, this COD was removed with almost complete conversion of the biodiesel waste to methane. Community analysis of the parallel reactors over time using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism confirmed that co-digester metabolic steady-state was reached only after the bacterial community shift was complete. A feeding strategy that maintained stable anaerobic digestion with an intermittent biodiesel feeding period was also demonstrated.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-01-01

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