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Anaerobic Digestion of Fermentation Residuals for Energy Self-Sufficient Bioethanol Plant Operation

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Anaerobic digestion of whole stillage from a corn-based ethanol plant was evaluated by batch and continuous-flow digesters under thermophilic and mesophilic conditions. At whole corn stillage concentrations of 6348 to 50786 mg total chemical oxygen demand (TCOD)/L, preliminary biochemical methane potential assays produced similar amount of biogas, which was 84 L (57 L CH4) and 87 L (52 L CH4) per kg stillage from thermophilic and mesophilic digesters, respectively. Continuous-flow studies for the full-strength stillage (TCOD = 254 g/L) at organic loadings of 4.25, 6.3 and 9.05 g TCOD/L. d indicated unstable performance for the thermophilic digester. Among the sludge retention times (SRTs) of 60, 45 and 30 d tested, the mesophilic digestion was successful only at 60 d-SRT which does not represent a practical operation time for a large scale bioethanol plant. Future laboratory studies will focus on different reactor configurations to reduce the SRT needed in the digesters
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Keywords: Anaerobic digestion; bioethanol; corn whole stillage; mesophilic; thermophilic

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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