Surplus yeast is a residue produced during brewery process, which presents high contents of organic matter. Biogas production from yeast could significantly contribute to bioenergy production in breweries, via biogas generation. Co-digestion of surplus yeast and brewery wastewater in a single treatment step would simplify the technical and economical requirements for the transformation of both residues into biogas. The feasibility of such co-digestion process was studied by means of batch tests and a lab-scale UASB reactor operation. The effect of applying three pre-treatments (thermal, chemical and mechanical) to the surplus yeast was also studied. Results showed that co-digestion of yeast and brewery wastewater is feasible, since no negative effects of the joint digestion were observed. Pre-treatments tested in this research produced no significant improvements on biogas yield or digestion rates. Even though no negative effects were observed when digesting wastewater and yeast in a UASB reactor after 70 days, long-term studies would be needed in order to detect potential negative effects over granular sludge development, sometimes observed during the treatment of some wastewaters containing suspended solids.
Keywords: anaerobic digestion, brewery wastewater, co-digestion, pre-treatment, yeast