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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4491/eer.2020.648
Can the addition of biochar improve the performance of biogas digesters operated at 45°C?
Samson Oluwasegun Masebinu1, Olufunto Toluope Fanoro2, Heribert Insam3, Charles Mbohwa4, Andreas Otto Wagner3, Rudolf Markt3, and Sebastian Hupfauf3
1Process, Energy and Environmental Technology Station, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
2Biotechnology Department, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
3Department of Microbiology, University of Innsbruck, Austria
4Operations and Engineering Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Corresponding Author: Sebastian Hupfauf ,Tel: +43 512 507 51326, Fax: +43 512 507 2928, Email: Sebastian.Hupfauf@uibk.ac.at
Received: November 24, 2020;  Accepted: January 28, 2021.
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Biogas from anaerobic digestion (AD) may contribute towards a green energy scene in the future. Despite many benefits, AD plant operators are still challenged by limitations of the technology. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of biochar addition to AD reactors operated at 45°C to optimize productivity, efficiency and stability of the process. Biochar is characterized by a large surface area and may therefore facilitate the creation of biofilms on the one hand and remove environmental contaminants on the other hand. Moreover, biochar may serve as pH control agent due to its alkaline properties, counteracting reactor acidification. Our results showed that the addition of biochar reduced efficiently the amount of H2S that initially occurred in the headspace during reactor start-up. Nevertheless, no impact on biogas- and methane yields was observed. This might be explained with an already well-working AD system without any severe disturbances, where the balancing nature of biochar did hardly count. Future studies, however, need to evaluate the effect on stressed systems. The microbiome analysis provided a detailed view of the microbial dynamics during the start-up phase, revealing Methanosarcina as dominant methanogen in the end. The addition of biochar did not alter the microbial community composition.
Keywords: Anaerobic digestion | AD | Process optimisation | Methane | methanogens | 16S rRNA
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