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Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste with Unconventional Co-Substrates for Stable Biogas Production at High Organic Loading Rates

1
The Water Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19147, USA
2
Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3875; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143875
Received: 23 June 2019 / Revised: 9 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Methods for Food Waste Valorization)
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is widely considered a more sustainable food waste management method than conventional technologies, such as landfilling and incineration. To improve economic performance while maintaining AD system stability at commercial scale, food waste is often co-digested with animal manure, but there is increasing interest in food waste-only digestion. We investigated the stability of anaerobic digestion with mixed cafeteria food waste (CFW) as the main substrate, combined in a semi-continuous mode with acid whey, waste bread, waste energy drinks, and soiled paper napkins as co-substrates. During digestion of CFW without any co-substrates, the maximum specific methane yield (SMY) was 363 mL gVS−1d−1 at organic loading rate (OLR) of 2.8 gVSL−1d−1, and reactor failure occurred at OLR of 3.5 gVSL−1d−1. Co-substrates of acid whey, waste energy drinks, and waste bread resulted in maximum SMY of 455, 453, and 479 mL gVS−1d−1, respectively, and it was possible to achieve stable digestion at OLR as high as 4.4 gVSL−1d−1. These results offer a potential approach to high organic loading rate digestion of food waste without using animal manure. Process optimization for the use of unconventional co-substrates may help enable deployment of anaerobic digesters for food waste management in urban and institutional applications and enable increased diversion of food waste from landfills in heavily populated regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: food waste; co-digestion; biogas; specific methane yield; organic loading rate; process stability food waste; co-digestion; biogas; specific methane yield; organic loading rate; process stability
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Hegde, S.; Trabold, T.A. Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste with Unconventional Co-Substrates for Stable Biogas Production at High Organic Loading Rates. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3875.

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