A critical review of experimental and predicted methane generation from anaerobic codigestion
Anaerobic digestion is increasingly being considered as a treatment option for an extensive range of waste biomass, due to the potential for energy recovery, in the form of methane production, and lower sludge volumes relative to aerobic treatment processes. Furthermore, when two substrates are codigested (i.e. digested together), added benefits are foreseeable, such as increased methane production and detoxification of toxic compounds via cometabolic degradation pathways. The objectives of this study were to compare experimental and predicted methane production from codigestion literature studies in order to objectively evaluate digester performance. Two predictive methods were used, both assuming methane yields are additive: literature values for digestion of single substrates and a stoichiometric method using model substrates to represent different substrates. Waste sources included in the analysis were primary sewage sludge, waste activated sludge, cow manure, waste paper, grease trap sludge, fat oil and grease and algal sludge. It was found that methane production could approximately be predicted using both methods, with literature methane yields from the same study being the most accurate predictor. One important finding from this study was that the assumption that methane yields are additive is a reasonable one. Furthermore, both predictive methods may be usefully employed as a screening tool to compare methane yields between different types and blends of substrates.
Keywords: biodegradation probability, biogas, municipal wastewater, sewage sludge