BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Advantages such as high stability and high biogas production when recirculating the effluent stream in two-stage anaerobic digestion systems have been demonstrated on a variety of substrates, but there is limited information regarding the use of this practice on organic municipal waste. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate how effluent recirculation affects the two-stage anaerobic digestion of biodegradable municipal solid waste.
METHODS: Firstly, biodegradable municipal solid waste substrate was fermented under conditions of 12 percent initial total solids and a temperature of 36 degrees Celsius for 5 days. After that, the substrate continued to be diluted using tap water or the effluent stream with a rate of 2:1. In the case of using the effluent stream, the experiment was further performed with dilution rates of 3:1, 1:1, and 1:2. Then, the liquid part was collected and pumped into the methane reactor at an organic loading rate of 7.64 grams of total solids per liter per day at 36 degrees Celsius. The methane reactor was an up-flow reactor that contained both granular sludge and suspended sludge. The effectiveness of the experimental stages was evaluated through biogas production and chemical oxygen demand removal.
FINDINGS: In the fermentative reactor, using the effluent stream to dilute solid-state feedstock helped keep the reactor stable at pH 5.5 without alkali addition. In the case of using tap water for dilution, it required a dose of 115.8 grams and 75.3 grams of sodium hydroxide per kilogram of volatile solids to attain pH conditions at 6.5 and 5.5, respectively. Maintaining the reactor at pH 6.5 increased the concentration of fermentation products compared to pH 5.5, including 5.9 percent total chemical oxygen demand, 5.5 percent soluble chemical oxygen demand, and 10.6 percent total volatile fatty acids. In the case of recirculating the effluent stream in the methane reactor, increasing the dilution rate from 0.5 to 3.0 resulted in a methane yield of 227.5-278.9 milliliter per gram of volatile solids and 85-93 percent chemical oxygen demand removal. The methane reactor’s best digestion performance was attained at recirculation rate 2. Methane formation mainly occurred in granular sludge via the hydrogenotrophic pathway. Methane formation in suspended sludge occurred in a secondary manner, mainly via both the hydrogenotrophic and acetotrophic pathways. Among methanogen families, Methanobacteriaceae was found to have the highest relative abundance (7.5 percent in granular sludge and 0.8 percent in suspended sludge).
CONCLUSION: Recirculating the effluent provided significant benefits, including the ability to stabilize the hydrolysis process and increase the methane yield. A recirculation rate of 2 to obtain a total chemical oxygen demand of 35.2 grams per liter was the best condition for methanogenesis. Acetotrophic methanogens were better adapted to difficult conditions than hydrogenotrophic methanogens. The formation of methane mainly occurred in granular sludge via a dominant hydrogenotrophic pathway. Methane formation in suspended sludge occurred in a secondary manner, mainly via both the hydrogenotrophic and acetotrophic pathways. Among methanogen families, Methanobacteriaceae was found to have the highest relative abundance.
- Without using the effluent recirculation, fermentative reactor required an alkali dose of 115.8 g-NaOH/kg-VS and 75.3 g-NaOH/kg-VS to attain pH 6.5 and 5.5, respectively;
- Recirculation rate of 2 to get TCOD of 35.2 g-O2/L was the best condition for methanogenesis;
- Acetotrophic methanogens were better adapted than hydrogenotrophic methanogens under hard conditions;
- The relative abundance of methanogens was 11.8% in GS compared to 2.5% in SS and the relative abundance of the acidogens/acetogens in GS (37%) was also higher than those obtained in SS (25%).