anaerobic digestion of food wastes for biogas production

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Anaerobic Digestion of Food Wastes for Biogas ProductionXiguang Chen, Graduate Research AssistantDepartment of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of California at Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA,

Rowena T. Romano, PhD, Environmental EngineerDepartment of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of California at Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA,

Ruihong Zhang, PhD, ProfessorDepartment of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of California at Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA,

Abstract Five types of food waste were investigated as feedstock for a potential centralized anaerobic digester system in the area of Sacramento, California to produce biogas energy. The wastes were from a soup processing plant, a cafeteria, a commercial kitchen, a fish farm, and grease trap collection service. Digestibilities of the food wastes, individually and in mixtures, were measured using batch anaerobic digestion tests at mesophilic (35 C) and thermophilic (50 C) temperatures and two food to microorganism ratios (F/M) of 0.5 and 1.0 for 28 days. The digestion test results were used to determine the kinetic parameters of food waste degradation and biogas production using the Gompertz bacterial growth model. A continuously fed mesophilic single-stage anaerobic digester was evaluated using a mixture of the five food wastes at organic loading rates of 0.5 to 1.0 g VS/L/d. The batch digestion results showed that the fish and grease trap wastes required longer time to complete the digestion and had higher biogas yields than the other wastes. The highest biogas yield was 1.42 L/g VS for batch digestion of grease trap waste at mesophilic and F/M of 0.5. The batch digestion of mixed food wastes was successful at mesophilic conditions, which biogas yields were 0.95 and 0.80 L/g VS at F/M of 0.5 and 1.0, respectively. However, inhibitory effects were observed at thermophilic conditions, which had longer lag time and lower biogas yields of 0.69 and 0.73 L/g VS at F/M of 0.5 and 1.0, respectively. The continuously-fed digester required the addition of sodium hydroxide at 0.2 g/g VS in order to maintain the alkalinity in the digester at about 2,500 mg CaCO3/L and pH above 7. The steady state biogas yields were 0.32 and 0.27 L/g VS, respectively, for OLRs of 0.5 and 1.0 g VS/L/d. For commercial applications, the chemical cost and proper management of additional salt in the digester effluent need to be carefully considered. Keywords: Anaerobic digestion, Continuous digestion, Food waste, Bioconversion, Biogas


Introduction Food waste is the third-largest component of municipal solid waste generated in the United States. According to a report by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA, 2008), approximately 32 million tons of food waste was generated annually. Less than three percent of the food waste was separated and treated, primarily through composting, and the rest was disposed of in landfills. Due to increasing needs for renewable energy generation and diversion of organic residuals from landfills to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impact, treatment of food waste using anaerobic digestion technologies has become a more attractive method for food waste management. Anaerobic digestion is a controlled biological degradation process and allows efficient capturing and utilization of biogas (approximately 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide) for energy generation. The digestate from anaerobic digesters contains many nutrients and can thus be used as plant fertilizer and soil amendment. Anaerobic digestion of different types of food waste has been studied extensively. Cho et al. (1995) conducted batch digestion tests of food wastes at 37 C and 28 day retention time. The methane yields were 0.48, 0.29, 0.28, and 0.47 L/g VS for cooked meat, boiled rice, fresh cabbage and mixed food wastes, respectively. Heo et al. (2004) evaluated the biodegradability of a traditional Korean food waste consisting of boiled rice (1015%), vegetables (6570%), and meat and eggs (1520%) and showed a methane yield of 0.49 L/g VS at 35 C after 40 days retention time. Zhang et al. (2007) analyzed the nutrient content of food waste from a restaurant, showing that the food waste contained appropriate nutrients for anaerobic microorganisms, as well as reported a methane yield of 0.44 L/g VS of food waste in batch digestion test under thermophilic conditions (50C) after 28 days. Anaerobic digestion of food waste is achievable; however different types of food waste result in varying degrees of methane yields, and thus the effects of mixing various types of food waste and their proportions should be determined on a case by case basis. The objective of this study was to determine the digestibility of five food wastes individually and as a mixture under mesophilic and thermophilic conditions. The five food wastes were selected based on a previous survey results that indicated that these were the largest food waste streams in Sacramento, CA. The City of Sacramento was interested in developing a centralized anaerobic digester for these food waste streams. The digestibility was evaluated in terms of biogas yield, methane yield and volatile solids reduction. The second objective was to evaluate the performance and operating requirements of a single stage, mixed digester for treating the mixture of five food wastes. 2. Materials and Methods 2.1. Collection and characterization of food wastes and anaerobic inoculum The five food wastes were collected from July to October 2006. Food waste from a soup processing plant was collected after it was dewatered during the pressing stage. The waste was sampled on three consecutive days by manually collecting and placing the waste into one-gallon zipped-locked plastic bags. The soup processing plant reported to be processing beef, potatoes, clams, and mushrooms on the first day, chicken, corn, pasta, ham, and other vegetables on the second day; and mushroom, ham, pasta, and other vegetables on the third day. For analysis, the three collections were mixed in equal proportions. Food 2

waste from a cafeteria was sampled at a composting facility where the food waste was delivered on two non-consecutive days. For each sampling event, the waste was dumped from trucks onto a tipping floor. Samples were collected by shovel and placed into a five-gallon bucket. For analysis, the two collections were mixed in equal proportions. Food waste from the salad preparation line (pre-consumer) of a commercial kitchen was collected in a five-gallon bucket on one day. The waste consisted of melon rinds, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, and various meats. The waste was processed through a meat grinder to obtain a homogenous mixture. Fish waste from a fish farm consisted of five Sturgeon heads and fish viscera. The fish waste was collected in a five-gallon bucket. The fish heads were difficult to cut and/or grind, therefore the flesh and gills were first stripped, and mixed with the fish viscera in a meat grinder. Grease trap waste was provided by a grease collecting company. Two grease trap samples were collected from two fast-food restaurants. The samples were shipped to the laboratory in one-gallon plastic jars in coolers. For analysis, the two samples were mixed in equal proportions. All the food waste samples were kept frozen at -20 C until used. Mesophilic anaerobic inoculum were collected from a working mesophilic anaerobic digester at wastewater treatment plant in Davis, CA. Thermophilic culture was collected from thermophilic anaerobic digesters at East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) in Oakland, CA. All the five food wastes and anaerobic inoculum were analyzed for total solids (TS), volatile solids (VS), and fixed solids (FS) in duplicate prior to any digestion tests. For the batch tests, the entire content of the reactor was measured for TS, VS, and FS at the end of the digestion period. Initial and final TS, VS, and FS were used to determine solid reduction during the digestion period. All the analyses were performed according to the standard methods (APHA, 1998). Samples of the five waste streams were also sent to A&L Laboratories (Modesto, CA) for analysis of nutrients (N, P, K, S, Mg, Ca, Na), metals (Fe, Al, Mn, Cu, Zn), chloride, crude protein, crude fat, fiber, total carbohydrates, ash, organic matter, and carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N). 2.2. Batch digestion tests 2.2.1. Experimental design and set-up Mesophilic and thermophilic batch digestion experiments were conducted at 35 2C and 50 2C respectively. Each of the batch reactors had a total and effective volume of 1130 and 500 mL, respectively. The reactors were loaded with 1.5 g VS of each food waste to obtain an organic loading of 3.0 g VS/L. To achieve food to microorganism ratios (F/M) of 0.5 and 1.0, 3.0 g VS and 1.5 g VS of inoculum was added to each reactor, respectively. Tap water was used to bring the working volume up to 500 mL working volume. All the reactors were tightly closed with rubber septa and screw caps. The head spaces of the reactors were purged with argon gas for five minutes to assure anaerobic conditions. In each of the experiments, blank reactors with only inoculum and tap water were also prepared to correct for the biogas produced from the inoculum only. All treatments were conducted in duplicate. All the reactors were manually mixed once a day for 30 seconds prior to measuring biogas volume.


2.2.2. Measurements and calculations Daily biogas production was calculated using the headspace pressure of the reactor. Headspace pressure was measured using a pressure gauge (WAL-Me-und Regelsysteme GmbH type 3150, Germany) with accuracy of 0.1%. After measuring the headspace pressure, the biogas in the headspace was released under


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