Simultaneous biomethanisation of endogenous and imported CO2 in organically loaded anaerobic digesters

Bing Tao, Anna Alessi, Yue Zhang, James Paul Jonathan Chong, Sonia Heaven, Charles J. Banks

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In-situ biomethanisation reduces the CO2 in biogas to CH4 via direct H2 injection into an anaerobic digester, but volumetric methane production (VMP) is limited by organic loading. Ex-situ biomethanisation, where gaseous substrates are fed to pure or mixed cultures of hydrogenotrophic methanogens, offers higher VMP but requires an additional reactor and supply of essential nutrients. This work combined the two approaches in a novel hybrid application achieving simultaneous in-situ and ex-situ biomethanisation within an organically-loaded anaerobic digester receiving supplementary biogas. Conventional stirred-tank digesters were first acclimated to H2 addition, increasing biogas methane content from 50% to 95% and VMP from 0.86 to 1.51 L L-1 day-1 at a moderate loading rate of 3 g organic chemical oxygen demand per L per day (g CODorg L-1 day-1). Externally-produced biogas was then added to demonstrate simultaneous biomethanisation of endogenous and imported CO2. This further increased VMP to 2.76 L L-1 day-1 without affecting organic substrate degradation. In-situ CO2 reduction can alter digester pH by reducing bicarbonate buffering: the combined process operated stably at around pH 8.0 with 3-5% CO2 in the headspace. Microbial community analysis indicated the process was mediated by bacterial syntrophic acetate oxidation and highly enriched hydrogenotrophic methanogenic archaea (up to 97% of the archaeal population). This approach presents the opportunity to retrofit a single digester for H2 injection to convert and upgrade biogas from several others, minimising capital and operating costs by utilising both existing infrastructure and waste-derived feedstock nutrients for simultaneous biogas upgrading and power-to-methane.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-681
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date22 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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