Feasibility tests for treating shampoo and hair colorant wastewaters using anaerobic processes

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Wastes from the personal care product (PCP) industry are often high in biodegradable carbon, which makes them amenable to aerobic biological treatment, although process costs are usually high due to aeration inefficiencies, high electricity demand and production of large amounts of sludge. As such, anaerobic treatment technologies are being considered to lower net energy costs by reducing air use and increasing methane production. To assess the amenability of PCP wastes to anaerobic treatment, methane yields and rates were quantified in different anaerobic reactors treating typical PCP wastes, including wastes from shampoo and hair colorant products. Overall, shampoo wastes were more amenable to methanogenesis with almost double the methane yields compared with colour wastes. To assess relevant microbial guilds, qPCR was performed on reactor biomass samples. Methanosaetaceae abundances were always significantly higher than Methanosarcinaceae and Methanomicrobiales abundances (P < 0.05), and did not differ significantly between waste types. Although colour wastes were less amenable to anaerobic treatment than shampoo wastes, differences cannot be explained by relative microbial abundances and probably result from the presence of inhibiting compounds in hair colorants (e.g., oxidants) at higher levels. Results showed that anaerobic technologies have great potential for treating PCP wastes, but additional work is needed to establish the basis of elevated methane yields and inhibition, especially when colorant wastes are present.

Keywords: anaerobic waste treatment, industrial wastes, methanogenesis, personal care products

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