Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Vol.187, No.1, 28-46, 2019
Methane Production by Co-Digesting Vinasse and Whey in an AnSBBR: Effect of Mixture Ratio and Feed Strategy
The most common approach to deal with vinasse (sugarcane stillage) is fertigation, but this technique compromises soil structure and surrounding water bodies. A possible solution is to transport vinasse to local cheese whey producers and perform the co-digestion of these wastewaters together, reducing their organic load and generating bioenergy. Therefore, this study investigated the application of an AnSBBR (anaerobic sequencing batch biofilm reactor) operated in batch and fed-batch mode, co-digesting vinasse and whey at 30 degrees C. The effect of influent composition and feeding strategy was assessed. In all conditions, the system achieved high organic matter removal (approximately 83%). Increasing the percentage of vinasse from 0 to 100% in the influent resulted in a decrease in methane productivity (76.3 to 51.1 molCH(4) m(-3) day(-1)) and yield (12.7 to 9.1 molCH(4) kgCOD(-1)), but fed-batch mode operation improved reactor performance (73.0 molCH(4) m(-3) day(-1) and 11.5 molCH(4) kgCOD(-1)). From the kinetic metabolic model, it was possible to infer that, at the best condition, methane is produced in a similar way from the acetoclastic and hydrogenotrophic routes. A scheme of four parallel reactors with a volume of 16,950m(3) each was proposed in the scale-up estimation, with an energy recovery estimated in 28,745MWh per month.