Production of biogas from solid organic wastes through anaerobic digestion: a review

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  • MINI-REVIEW

    Production of biogas from solid organic wastesthrough anaerobic digestion: a review

    Ismail Muhammad Nasir & Tinia I. Mohd Ghazi &Rozita Omar

    Received: 16 December 2011 /Revised: 3 May 2012 /Accepted: 3 May 2012 /Published online: 24 May 2012# Springer-Verlag 2012

    Abstract Anaerobic digestion treatments have often beenused for biological stabilization of solid wastes. These treat-ment processes generate biogas which can be used as arenewable energy sources. Recently, anaerobic digestion ofsolid wastes has attracted more interest because of currentenvironmental problems, most especially those concernedwith global warming. Thus, laboratory-scale research on thisarea has increased significantly. In this review paper, thesummary of the most recent research activities coveringproduction of biogas from solid wastes according to itsorigin via various anaerobic technologies was presented.

    Keywords Anaerobic digestion . Biogas . Methane .

    Solid waste

    Introduction

    Million tons of solid waste are produced annually frommunicipal, industrial, and agricultural sources. The indis-criminate decomposition of these organic wastes results inlarge-scale contamination of land, water, and air. Of all theforms of solid organic waste, the most abundant is animaldung primarily from small farms, and it is from these farmsthat the pollution problem originating from waste disposal ismore intense. Research continues to focus on the treatmentof cattle dung for biogas production and possible optimiza-tion methods which could be used to enhance the productionfor practical applicability of the technology. Omar et al.(2008) observed an improvement in biogas yield up to

    0.207 m3 kg1 VS added with average methane content of65 % in the anaerobic treatment of cattle manure by additionof palm oil mill effluent as an inoculum in a laboratory scalebioreactor. In another study, Ounaar et al. (2012) obtainedbiogas production of 26.9 m3 with an average methanecontent of 61 % during the anaerobic digestion of 440 kgof cow dung with an energy equivalent of 164.5 kWh. Theseresults are encouraging for the use of animal waste availableto produce renewable energy and clean environment.

    According to Yu et al. (2002), decomposition of 1 MT ofgrass waste can possibly release 50110 m3 of carbon diox-ide and 90140 m3 of methane into the atmosphere. Meth-ane is an important greenhouse gas with the ability of globalwarming 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, andits atmospheric concentration has been increasing in therange of 1 to 2 % per year (IPCC 2007). Conventionalmunicipal solid waste (MSW) management has been mainlydisposal by land filling (Sosnowski et al. 2003). However,waste from landfills has been identified as the major sourceof anthropogenic methane emission and an essential con-tributor to global warming (IPCC 1996). Therefore, theincreased production of MSW accompanied with environ-mental and economic difficulties facing the conventionalmethods of disposal have resulted in great efforts to findalternative methods of disposal (Zsigraiova et al. 2009). Themost promising alternative to incinerating and compostingthese solid wastes is to digest its organic matter employingthe anaerobic digestion (Bouallagui et al. 2005).

    Anaerobic digestion for biogas production has become aworldwide focus of research, because it produces energythat is renewable and environmentally friendly. Special em-phasis was initially focused on anaerobic digestion of MSWfor bioenergy production about a decade ago (Braber 1995;Kiely et al. 1997). Anaerobic biological treatment can be anacceptable solution because it reduces and stabilizes solid

    I. Muhammad Nasir : T. I. Mohd Ghazi (*) : R. OmarDepartment of Chemical and Environmental Engineering,Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia,43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysiae-mail: tinia@eng.upm.edu.my

    Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (2012) 95:321329DOI 10.1007/s00253-012-4152-7

  • wastes volume, produces biogas comprising mainly meth-ane and carbon dioxide, and traces amount of other gases(Stroot et al. 2001). In addition to biogas, a nutrient-richdigestate is also produced which provide either fertilizer orsoil conditioner properties. Biological treatment of MSW tobiogas by anaerobic digestion processes including source-sorted and mechanically sorted MSW has been previouslydiscussed (Gunaseelan 1997).

    Literature is available about the applications and impor-tance of the anaerobic digestion treatments for solid wastetreatment, especially focusing on promoting process effi-ciency and performance. Therefore, the main objective ofthis review paper is to summarize the research activities onthe effects of both operational and process performanceparameters, covering the anaerobic conversion of varioussolid waste substrates via various anaerobic systems.

    Production of biogas by anaerobic digestion processes

    Many research papers have been published regarding theperformance of different anaerobic technological systemsdigesting organic solid wastes. Most of them concentrateon the concept of anaerobic digestion of the organic fractionof municipal solid waste (OFMSW). Anaerobic treatment ofOFMSW has been an attractive feedstock for biogas pro-duction. Nevertheless, pretreatment of MSW before thedigestion is the initial stage, and these wastes are character-ized by a high percentage of moisture and VS above 90 %with high biodegradability. Rao et al. (2000) referred tothese wastes as municipal garbage, which is the main con-stituent of MSW (4045 wt.%), emanating from differentsources as food waste (FW) such as households, fruit andvegetable markets, canteens, hotels, etc., and they are rich inorganic matter and can be used for biogas generation byanaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion of solid organicwastes has been studied recently, attempting to developtechnology that offers waste stabilization accompanyingresources recovery. About 90 % of the full-scale plant pres-ently in operation in Europe for anaerobic digestion ofOFMSW relies on one-stage system, and this are dividedinto wet and dry digestion (De Baere 2000). A likely reasonfor this is that the industrialists prefer a one-stage systemover the two-stage or multistage systems because a simplerdesign system suffers less frequent technical failures and areeconomical. The dry digestion systems digest waste asreceived, while the wet digestion systems need to slurrythe waste with water to about 12 % TS (Vandevivere et al.2002). However, from a technical point of view, the drydigestion systems appear more robust as regular technicalfailures are reported with wet systems due to sand, plastics,wood, and stones. Many researchers have already reportedvarious studies on laboratory scale, pilot-scale, and full-

    scale anaerobic digestion for the treatment of organic solidwaste. From a review of literature on the preliminary designprocedure for anaerobic digesters for the treatment of MSWfor biogas production, Igoni et al. (2008) noted that properreactor size reduction must be considered for the anaerobicdigestion of organic wastes. They further explained that themost important aspect of digestion processes, such as, tem-perature, hydrogen ion concentration, carbon nitrogen (C/N)ratio, organic loading rate (OLR), moisture content, and heatcontent, need to be manipulated so as to achieve optimalperformance for anaerobic digester. They recommend thatthe batch digestion system should be increasingly employedbecause it is cost-effective and economical for treating theever abundant MSW to useful energy. Therefore, a summaryof the anaerobic digestion processes employed for thesewastes will be showed in this section, and the overview ofthe studies are also presented in an orderly manner in Table 1.

    A laboratory scale batch anaerobic digestion of municipalgarbage was studied by Rao et al. (2000) at temperatures of25 C and 29 C, with a concentration range between 45 and135 g TS/L. They found out that the methane content fromthe biogas varied between 62 and 72 %, and a conversionefficiency of about 85 % was obtained. In a similar study,Rao and Singh (2004) investigated the batch digestion ofmunicipal garbage under room temperature (264 C) toestimate its bioenergy potential and conversion efficienciesat an HRT of 15 days. They reported a high yield of 0.56 m3

    biogas kg1 VS added with 70 % methane content and a VSreduction of 76.3 %. These results demonstrated that mu-nicipal garbage has a high potential to be a bioenergysource. Lpez and Espinosa (2008) evaluated the effect ofpretreating OFMSW with lime in the anaerobic digestionprocess. The laboratory scale experiment was carried out ina completely mixed reactor operated on a batch basis. Themaximum yield of methane obtained under the anaerobicdigestion of the pretreated waste was 0.15 m3 kg1 VSadded. This result is nearly 172 % increase in the methaneyield over the control without pretreatment. In addition,under the same condition, soluble COD and VS removalwere 93 and 94 %, respectively. The outcome implied thatthe chemical pretreatment with lime, followed by anaerobicdigestion, gives the best result for OFMSW stabilization.Elango et al. (2007) reported data on the influence of do-mestic sewage on the biogas production from municipalsolid waste using the anaerobic digestion process. Theyoperated a batch reactor at temperatures from 26 to 36 Cwith a fixed HRT of 25 days and different OLR in the rangeof 0.5 to 4.3 kg VS m3 day1. They obtained a maximumamount of biogas production of 0.36 m3 kg1 VS added atOLR of 2.9 kg VS m3 day1. This OLR was referred to asthe optimum OLR because the maximal removal of TS(87 %), VS (88.15), and COD (89.3 %) occurred at thisstage. They concluded that the disposal problem of MSW

    322 Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (2012) 95:321329

  • Table1

    Operatio

    nalandperformance

    datafordifferentbioreactor

    designsappliedforsolid

    wastes

    Researcher

    Reactor

    type

    andvolume

    Feed

    Tem

    p.(C)

    OLR

    (kgVSm3days

    1)

    HRT(days)

    Efficiency

    VSRED(%

    )CH4yield

    (m3kg

    1VSadded)

    Biogasyield

    (m3kg

    1VS)

    %CH4

    Rao

    etal.(2000)

    Batch

    MSW

    25and29

    NA

    NR

    85NR

    NR

    72

    Rao

    andSingh

    (2004)

    Batch

    (3.25L)

    MSW

    25NA

    1576.3

    NR

    0.560

    70

    Lopez

    andEspinosa(2008)

    Batch

    (1L)

    OFMSW

    25NA

    NR

    940.15

    NR

    NR

    Elangoetal.(2007)

    Sem

    icont.batch(5

    L)

    MSW

    +domestic

    sewage

    2636

    05-4.3

    2588.1

    NR

    0.36

    6872

    Fernandez

    etal.(2008)

    Batch

    (1.7

    L)

    OFMSW

    35NA

    NR

    NR

    0.11

    (20%

    TS);

    0.007(30%

    TS)

    NR

    NR

    Fernandez

    etal.(2010)

    Batch

    (1.7

    L)

    OFMSW

    35NA

    15(20%

    TS);

    35(30%

    TS)

    NR

    NR

    NR

    80(20%

    TS)

    Guendouzetal.(2010)

    Highsolid

    batch(40L)

    MSW

    35NA

    1540

    0.211

    NR

    NR

    Paraw

    iraetal.(2004)

    Batch

    (0.5

    L)

    Potatowaste/potato

    waste+beetleaves

    37NA

    14NR

    0.42/0.68

    NR

    62/84

    Macias-Coraletal.(2008)

    UAF(222

    L)

    OFMSW

    +CM

    /CGW

    +CM

    NR

    NR

    141/151

    NR

    0.1/0.19

    NR

    72

    Fernandez

    etal.(2005)

    Sem

    icont.(14L)

    OFMSW

    370.97

    1773

    0.3

    0.8

    58

    Nguyenetal.(2007)

    Batch

    (375

    L)

    Leachate

    37NR

    6061

    0.26

    NR

    55

    HartmannandAhring(2005)

    CSTR(4.5

    L)

    OFMSW

    +CM

    554

    1874

    0.460

    0.710

    64

    Linke

    (2006)

    CSTR

    Potatoprocessing

    waste

    550.83.4

    NR

    NR

    NR

    0.65

    0.85

    58

    Glass

    etal.(2005)

    CSTRandAF

    Steam

    -treated

    OFMSW

    NR

    NR

    1220

    %COD,86

    %COD(CSTR,AF)

    NR

    0.02

    0.29,0.04

    0.47

    (CSTR,AF)

    NR

    Sosnowskietal.(2003)

    2-stageCSTRand

    UASB

    Sew

    agesludge

    +OFMSW

    56,36

    (CSTR,U

    ASB)

    0.669gVSS

    dm3day

    117.3,44.2

    (CSTR,UASB)

    NR

    0.024

    NR

    60

    Fongsatitkul

    etal.(2010)

    2-stge

    OFMSW

    +RAS

    35NR

    2878

    NR

    0.73

    NR

    Bouallaguietal.(2003)

    Tubular

    reactor(18L)

    FVW

    356%

    TS

    2075.9

    NR

    0.707

    57

    Bouallaguietal.(2004)

    2-phasesystem

    (18L)

    FVW

    35/55

    7.5kg

    COD

    m3day

    120

    96%

    COD

    NR

    0.705,

    0.997

    (35and55

    C)

    64,61

    (35and55

    C)

    Zhang

    etal.(2007)

    Batch

    system

    Foodwaste

    50NA

    10/28

    810.348,

    0.435

    (10,28

    days)

    NR

    73

    Forster-Carneiroetal.(2007b)

    Batch

    FW

    35NR

    2060

    NR

    NR

    0.49

    NR

    Bouallaguietal.(2009)

    ASBR(2

    L)

    FVW

    551.24

    2079

    NR

    0.480

    60

    Bouallaguietal.(2009)

    ASBR(2

    L)

    Abattoirwaste+FVW

    552.56

    2086.2

    NR

    0.73

    62

    Alvarez

    andLiden

    (2008)

    Sem

    icont.(2

    L)

    FVW

    +SW

    +manure

    351.3

    30NR

    0.320

    1.360

    56

    Schober

    etal.(1999)

    1stageand2-stage

    (30L)

    KR

    35/55

    611

    72,80

    (35and55

    C)

    NR

    0.800,

    0.830

    (35and55

    C)

    NR

    Paraw

    iraetal.(2006)

    UASB(0.84L)and

    APB

    (0.7

    L)

    PW

    leachate(UASB),

    PW

    (APB)

    376.1,

    4.7

    (UASB,APB)

    13.2,10

    (UASB,APB)

    NR

    NR

    NR

    59,66

    (UASB,APB)

    Angelidakietal.(2006)

    CSTR(4.5

    L)

    SS-OFMSW

    5511.4

    1530

    0.430

    0.71

    64

    Davidsson

    etal.(2007)

    Pilot-scale(35L)

    SS-OFMSW

    552.8

    1581

    0.30.4

    NR

    62

    Forster-Carneiroetal.(2008a)

    Batch

    (5L)

    SS-OFMSW/M

    S-

    OFMSW

    55NA

    6056

    NR

    NR

    53.4

    MarounandELFadel(2007)

    CSTR(10.4L)

    SS-OFMSW

    352.03

    90NR

    NR

    0.20.56

    4065

    Kim

    etal.(2006)

    3-stagesemicont.

    Foodwaste

    50NR

    12.4

    NR

    NR

    NR

    67.4

    Forster-Carneiroetal.(2008c)

    Batch

    (1.1

    L)

    FW/SH-OFMSW/

    OFMSW

    55NR

    9032.4/73.7/79.4

    0.18/0.05/0.08

    NR

    NR

    Forster-Carneiroetal.(2007)

    Batch

    (1.1

    L)

    SS-OFMSW,food

    waste

    55NA

    9074,32.4

    (SS-OFMSW,FW)

    0.50,0.180

    (SS-OFMSW,FW)

    NR

    68.5,76.7

    (SS-OFMSW,FW)

    Sharm

    aetal.(2000)

    PFR(1350L)

    SSW

    3740

    33.7

    710.7

    1.05

    NR

    Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (2012) 95:321329 323

  • and domestic sewage can be resolved substantially. Anexperiment was performed by Fernandez et al. (2008) toinvestigate the influence of substrate concentration on drymesophilic anaerobic digestion of the OFMSW. The exper-iment was conducted in a batch reactor at 35 C, during aperiod of 8595 days at solid concentrations of 20 % and30 % TS. Experimental results indicated that the reactorwith 20 % TS achieved a higher yield of 0.11 m3 CH4kg1 VS removed compared to 0.07 m3 CH4 kg

    1 VSremoved achieved for 30 % TS reactor. Also, the 20 % TSdigestion attained the highest performance with high dis-solve organic carbon (DOC) removal (80.69 %), comparedto the 30 % TS digestion (69.05 %). Therefore, they con-cluded that the initial substrate concentration during theanaerobic digestion of OFMSW affects the process clearly.In a similar study, Fernandez et al. (2010) investigated themesophilic anaerobic degradation of OFMSW in discontin-uous lab reactors with two different initial concentrations of20 % TS and 30 % TS. The anaerobic treatment was favoredwhen it was conducted with a 20 % TS content in compar-ison to a similar process with 30 % TS. Results showed ahigher level of organic matter removed, in terms of DOCand VFA, 18.18 % and 8.09 %, respectively, in the 20 % TSsystem. Also, the kinetics parameters demonstrated higheractive biomass and a higher coefficient for the production ofmethane at the 20 % TS concentration.

    Guendouz et al. (2010) found similar biogas and methaneyields of around 0.211 m3 kg1 VS added with 40 % VSreduction conducted in a laboratory scale high-solid batchdigestion test of MSW under mesophilic conditions for a15-day HRT. The results obtained compared well to a largerpilot-scale reactor operation with a yield of 0.205 m3 meth-ane kg1 VS added. Parawira et al. (2004) examined batchanaerobic codigestion in an experiment with different mix-tures of potato waste and beet leaves. They reported anenhanced yield of 0.68 m3 methane kg1 VS added with amixing ratio of (24:16%TS), and another yield of 0.42 m3

    methane kg1 VS added from potato waste alone. Theprocesses were both operated under mesophi...

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