Feasibility of Increased Biogas Production from the Co-Digestion of Agricultural, Municipal, and Agro-Industrial Wastes in Rural Communities

By McDonald, Tanya; Achari, Gopal et al. | Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Feasibility of Increased Biogas Production from the Co-Digestion of Agricultural, Municipal, and Agro-Industrial Wastes in Rural Communities


McDonald, Tanya, Achari, Gopal, Abiola, Abimbola, Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science


Abstract: In rural communities, such as Olds, Alberta (population 7248) energy may be produced through anaerobic co-digestion of municipal, agricultural, and agro-industrial wastes. An inventory within a 20 km radius of Olds revealed that 291 000 tonnes of wet organic waste are generated annually (96.8% manure) with an electrical potential of 42 GWh (1 GWh = [10.sup.6] kWh). Analysis of feedlot, hog, dairy and poultry manure, offal, food, grass, and biosolids identified the potential for waste blending to optimize solids content, nutrient balance, and pH level. In laboratory tests, biogas yield increased from 0.382 [m.sup.3]/kg volatile solid (VS) for feedlot manure alone to 0.513, 0.517, and 0.500 [m.sup.3]/kg VS with co-digestion of 30% hog manure, 15% offal, and 30% offal, respectively. Methane content of biogas increased from 75.8% in feedlot manure digestion to 78.8, 79.5, and 80.9% with co-digestion of 30% hog manure, 15% offal, and 30% offal, respectively.

Key words: biogas, co-digestion, waste, methane, manure, offal, anaerobic digestion, greenhouse gas, sustainability, electricity.

Resume : Dans les communautes rurales, comme Olds, en Alberta (7248 habitants), l'energie peut etre produite par le biais de la co-digestion anaerobie des dechets municipaux, agricoles et agro-industriels. Un inventaire dans un rayon de 20 km de Olds a revele que 291 000 tonnes de dechets organiques humides sont generees tous les ans (96,8 % de fumier), avec un potentiel electrique de 42 GWh (1 GWh = [10.sup.6] kWh). L'analyse du fumier des parcs a engraissement, des porcs, des bovins et des volailles, des abats, de l'alimentation, de l'herbe et des biosolides a identifie le potentiel du melange des dechets pour optimiser les contenus solides, l'equilibre des elements nutritifs et le niveau de pH. Lors de tests en laboratoire, le rendement de biogaz a augmente, passant de 0,382 [m.sup.3]/kg solides volatils (SV) pour le fumier des parcs a engraissement seuls a 0,513, 0,517 et 0,500 [m.sup.3]/kg VS avec la co-digestion de 30 % de fumier de porc, 15 % d'abats et 30 % d'abats, respectivement. La teneur en methane du biogaz a augmente, passant de 75,8 % dans la digestion du fumier des parcs a engraissement a 78,8, 79,5 et 80,9 % avec la co-digestion de 30 % de fumier de porcs, 15 % des abats et 30 % d'abats, respectivement.

Mots-cles : biogaz, co-digestion, dechets, methane, fumier, abats, digestion anaerobie, gaz a effet de serre, durabilite, electricite.

[Traduit par la Redaction]

Introduction

Increased environmental awareness, rising waste disposal and energy costs, and the need for environmentally sustainable waste management solutions provide the impetus for biogas recovery from wastes in Canada. Anaerobic digestion is the decomposition of organic matter through the activity of a consortium of microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. This process occurs naturally in bogs, sediments, and in guts of animals. Although this biological process has been taking place for centuries, modern applications of this technology involve highly controlled environments, known as digesters, where process biology, temperature, and agitation are managed to ensure maximized carbon conversion and biogas production from organic waste.

Biogas, comprised mainly of methane (C[H.sub.4]) and carbon dioxide (C[O.sub.2]), can be used to fuel gas driven engines or boilers to produce electricity or heat, or may be upgraded and used as vehicle fuel. Harnessing the biogas produced during anaerobic digestion as a renewable energy source is expected to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste-handling costs, soil and water pollution, and odor generation. Apart from the biogas, organic fertilizer is produced as a by-product and the process water may be recycled. Canada has committed to reducing GHG emissions to 6% below 1990 levels. Of the two major GHG's, C[H.sub.4] and C[O.sub.2], C[H.sub.4] has a global warming potential of 25 times that of C[O. …

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