This paper aimed at measuring the concentration of methane dissolved in effluents from different UASB reactors (pilot-, demo- and full-scale) treating domestic wastewater, in order to calculate the degree of saturation of such greenhouse gas and evaluate the losses of energetic potential in such systems. The results showed that methane saturation degrees, calculated according to Henry's law, varied from ∼1.4 to 1.7 in the different reactors, indicating that methane was oversaturated in the liquid phase. The overall results indicated that the losses of dissolved methane in the anaerobic effluents were considerably high, varying from 36 to 41% of total methane generated in the reactor. These results show that there is considerable uncontrolled loss of methane in anaerobic wastewater treatment plants, implying the need of research on technologies aimed at recovering such energetic greenhouse gas.
Keywords: biogas, dissolved methane, domestic wastewater, UASB reactor