In Europe, the agricultural biogas sector is currently undergoing fast developments, and cattle manure constitutes an important feedstock. Batch dry digester processes with leachate recirculation prove to be particularly interesting for small-scale plants. However, their startup being relatively slow, the process could be facilitated by co-digestion with energy crops. In this study, Miscanthus xgiganteus
was chosen for its high biomass yields and low input requirements. The carbohydrate accessibility of this lignocellulosic biomass is limited but may be improved with alkali pretreatment. The efficiency of lime (CaO) pretreatment with low water addition on the biochemical methane potential (BMP) of miscanthus was investigated through two experimental designs (CaO concentrations ranged between 2.5 and 17.5% and pretreatment lasted 1, 3, or 5 days). The pretreated miscanthus was then co-digested with cattle manure in dry leach bed reactors. CaO pretreatments led to a 14–37% improvement of miscanthus BMP, and a 67–227% increase in the first-order kinetics constant; a high contact time was shown to favor methane production. According to these results and to industrial requirements, miscanthus was pretreated with 5 and 10% CaO for 5 days, then co-digested with manure in dry leach bed reactors. Nevertheless, the promising results of the BMP tests were not validated. This could be related to the high water absorption capacity of miscanthus.
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