Evaluation of the methanogenic step of a two-stage anaerobic digestion process of acidified olive mill solid residue from a previous hydrolytic-acidogenic step

B Rincón, R Borja, M A Martín, A Martín
Waste Management 2009, 29 (9): 2566-73
A study of the second step or methanogenic stage of a two-stage anaerobic digestion process treating two-phase olive oil mill solid residue (OMSR) was conducted at mesophilic temperature (35 degrees C). The substrate fed to the methanogenic step was the effluent from a hydrolytic-acidogenic reactor operating at an organic loading rate (OLR) of 12.9 g chemical oxygen demand (COD) L(-1) d(-1) and at a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 12.4 days; these OLR and HRT were found to be the best values to achieve the maximum total volatile fatty acid concentration (14.5 g L(-1) expressed as acetic acid) with a high concentration in acetic acid (57.5% of the total concentration) as the principal precursor of methane. The methanogenic stage was carried out in an anaerobic stirred tank reactor containing saponite as support media for the immobilization of microorganisms. OLRs of between 0.8 and 22.0 g COD L(-1) d(-1) were studied. These OLRs corresponded to HRTs of between 142.9 and 4.6 days. The methanogenic reactor operated with high stability for OLRs lower than 20.0 g COD L(-1) d(-1). This behaviour was shown by the total volatile fatty acids/total alkalinity ratio, whose values were always kept 0.12 for HRTs>4.6 days. The total COD (T-COD) removed was in the range of 94.3-61.3% and the volatile solids (VS) removed between 92.8% and 56.1% for OLRs between 0.8 and 20.0 g COD L(-1) d(-1). In the same way, a reduction of 43.8% was achieved for phenolic content. The low concentration of total volatile fatty acids (TVFA) observed (below 1 g L(-1) expressed as CH(3)COOH) in the methanogenic reactor effluents showed the high percentage of consumption and conversion of these acids to methane. A methane yield of 0.268+/-0.003 L CH(4) at standard temperature and pressure conditions (STP) g(-1) COD eliminated was achieved.

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