Fibreboard production is one of the most important industrial activities in Galicia (Spain). Great amounts of wastewater are generated, with properties depending on the type of wood, treatment process, final product and water reusing, among others. These effluents are characterized by a high chemical oxygen demand (COD), low pH and nutrients limitation. Aerobic and anaerobic processes have been used for their treatment. Presently, bioplastics production (mainly polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHA) from wastewaters with mixed cultures is being studied. Substrate requirements for these processes are a high organic matter content and low nutrient concentration. Therefore, wood mill effluents could be a suitable feedstock. PHA production from wastewaters is carried out in three steps. First, complex organic matter is converted into volatile fatty acids (VFA) through acidogenic fermentation. Then, VFA are used as substrate in an aerobic sequencing batch reactor (SBR), in which the enrichement of PHA producing bacteria from a mixed culture is favoured. Finally, the sludge from the SBR is fed with a pulse containing high VFA concentrations, resulting in PHA accumulation inside the cells. In this work, the possibility of applying this process to wood mill effluents is proposed. An acidification percentage of 37% and a storage yield (YSTO) of 0.23 Cmmol/Cmmol were obtained.
Keywords: acidogenic fermentation, bioplastics, PHA, SBR, VFA, wood mill effluent