Contribution of anaerobic digesters to emissions mitigation and electricity generation under U.S. climate policy.
ABSTRACT: Livestock husbandry in the U.S. significantly contributes to many environmental problems, including the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Anaerobic digesters (ADs) break down organic wastes using bacteria that produce methane, which can be collected and combusted to generate electricity. ADs also reduce odors and pathogens that are common with manure storage and the digested manure can be used as a fertilizer. There are relatively few ADs in the U.S., mainly due to their high capital costs. We use the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to test the effects of a representative U.S. climate stabilization policy on the adoption of ADs which sell electricity and generate methane mitigation credits. Under such policy, ADs become competitive at producing electricity in 2025, when they receive methane reduction credits and electricity from fossil fuels becomes more expensive. We find that ADs have the potential to generate 5.5% of U.S. electricity.
Project description:Conventional anaerobic digesters (ADs) treating dairy manure are fed with raw or fermented manure rich in volatile fatty acids (VFAs). In contrast, pre-fermented AD (PF-AD) is fed with the more recalcitrant, fiber-rich fraction of manure that has been pre-fermented and depleted of VFAs. Thus, the substrate of PF-AD may be likened to a lean diet rich in fibers while the pre-fermentation stage fermenter is fed a relatively rich diet containing labile organic substances. Previous results have shown that conventional and pre-fermented ADs fed with raw or pre-fermented manure, respectively, produced comparable methane yields. The primary objective of this study was to characterize, using next-generation DNA sequencing, the bacterial communities in various bioreactors (pre-fermentation stage fermenter; various operational arrangements PF-AD; conventional single-stage AD; and a full scale AD) and compare the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes (F/B) ratios in these different systems. Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes constituted the two most abundant phyla in all AD samples analyzed, as well as most of the samples analyzed in the fermenters and manure samples. Higher relative abundance of Bacteroidetes, ranging from 26% to 51% of bacteria, tended to be associated with PF-AD samples, while the highest relative abundance of Firmicutes occurred in the fermenter (maximum of 76% of bacteria) and manure (maximum of 66% of bacteria) samples. On average, primary stage fermenters exhibited microbiological traits linked to obesity: higher F/B ratios and a 'diet' that is less fibrous and more labile compared to that fed to PF-AD. On the other hand, microbial characteristics associated with leanness (lower F/B ratios combined with fibrous substrate) were associated with PF-AD. We propose that bacterial communities in AD shift depending on the quality of substrate, which ultimately results in maintaining VFA yields in PF-AD, similar to the role of bacterial communities and a high fiber diet in lean mice.
Project description:Different methods were tested to evaluate the performance of a pretreatment before anaerobic digestion. Besides conventional biochemical parameters, such as the biochemical methane potential (BMP), the methane production rate, or the extent of solubilization of organic compounds, methods for physical characterization were also developed in the present work. Criteria, such as the particle size distribution, the water retention capacity, and the rheological properties, were thus measured. These methods were tested on samples taken in two full-scale digesters operating with cattle manure as a substrate and using hammer mills. The comparison of samples taken before and after the pretreatment unit showed no significant improvement in the methane potential. However, the methane production rate increased by 15% and 26% for the two hammer mills, respectively. A relevant improvement of the rheological properties was also observed. This feature is likely correlated with the average reduction in particle size during the pretreatment operation, but these results needs confirmation in a wider range of systems.
Project description:Comparative analysis of methanogenic archaea compositions and dynamics in 11 laboratory-scale continuous stirred tank reactors fed with different agricultural materials (chicken manure, cattle manure, maize straw, maize silage, distillers grains, and Jatropha press cake) was carried out by analysis of the methyl coenzyme-M reductase ?-subunit (mcrA) gene. Various taxa within Methanomicrobiales, Methanobacteriaceae, Methanosarcinaceae, Methanosaetaceae, and Methanomassiliicoccales were detected in the biogas reactors but in different proportions depending on the substrate type utilized as well as various process parameters. Improved coverage and higher taxonomic resolution of methanogens were obtained compared to a previous 16S rRNA gene based study of the same reactors. Some members of the genus Methanoculleus positively correlated with the relative methane content, whereas opposite correlations were found for Methanobacterium. Specific biogas production was found to be significantly correlating with Methanosarcinaceae. Statistical analysis also disclosed that some members of the genus Methanoculleus positively correlated with the ammonia level, whereas the prevalence of Methanocorpusculum, Methanobacterium, and Methanosaeta was negatively correlated with this parameter. These results suggest that the application of methanogenic archaea adapted to specific feedstock might enhance the anaerobic digestion of such waste materials in full-scale biogas reactors.
Project description:An imbalance between acidogenic and methanogenic organisms during anaerobic digestion can result in increased accumulation of volatile fatty acids, decreased reactor pH, and inhibition of methane-producing Archaea. Most commonly the result of organic input overload or poor inoculum selection, these microbiological and biochemical changes severely hamper reactor performance, and there are a few tools available to facilitate reactor recovery. A small, stable consortium capable of catabolizing acetate and producing methane was propagated in vitro and evaluated as a potential bioaugmentation tool for stimulating methanogenesis in acidified reactors. Replicate laboratory-scale batch digesters were seeded with a combination of bioethanol stillage waste and a dairy manure inoculum previously observed to result in high volatile fatty acid accumulation and reactor failure. Experimental reactors were then amended with the acetoclastic consortium, and control reactors were amended with sterile culture media. Within 7 days, bioaugmented reactors had significantly reduced acetate accumulation and the proportion of methane in the biogas increased from 0.2?±?0 to 74.4?±?9.9 % while control reactors showed no significant reduction in acetate accumulation or increase in methane production. Organisms from the consortium were enumerated using specific quantitative PCR assays to evaluate their growth in the experimental reactors. While the abundance of hydrogenotrophic microorganisms remained stable during the recovery period, an acetoclastic methanogen phylogenetically similar to Methanosarcina sp. increased more than 100-fold and is hypothesized to be the primary contributor to reactor recovery. Genomic sequencing of this organism revealed genes related to the production of methane from acetate, hydrogen, and methanol.
Project description:Methane-producing bioelectrochemical systems generate methane by using microorganisms to reduce carbon dioxide at the cathode with external electricity supply. This technology provides an innovative approach for renewable electricity conversion and storage. Two key factors that need further attention are production of methane at high rate, and stable performance under intermittent electricity supply. To study these key factors, we have used two electrode materials: granular activated carbon (GAC) and graphite granules (GG). Under galvanostatic control, the biocathodes achieved methane production rates of around 65 L CH4/m2catproj/d at 35 A/m2catproj, which is 3.8 times higher than reported so far. We also operated all biocathodes with intermittent current supply (time-ON/time-OFF: 4-2', 3-3', 2-4'). Current-to-methane efficiencies of all biocathodes were stable around 60% at 10 A/m2catproj and slightly decreased with increasing OFF time at 35 A/m2catproj, but original performance of all biocathodes was recovered soon after intermittent operation. Interestingly, the GAC biocathodes had a lower overpotential than the GG biocathodes, with methane generation occurring at -0.52 V vs. Ag/AgCl for GAC and at -0.92 V for GG at a current density of 10 A/m2catproj. 16S rRNA gene analysis showed that Methanobacterium was the dominant methanogen and that the GAC biocathodes experienced a higher abundance of proteobacteria than the GG biocathodes. Both cathode materials show promise for the practical application of methane-producing BESs.
Project description:Cattle manure is an agricultural residue, which could be used as source to produce methane in order to substitute fossil fuels. Nevertheless, in practice the handling of this slowly degradable substrate during anaerobic digestion is challenging. In this study, the influence of the pre-treatment of cattle manure with pressure-swing conditioning (PSC) on the methane production was investigated. Six variants of PSC (combinations of duration 5 min, 30 min, 60 min and temperature 160 °C, 190 °C) were examined with regards to methane yield in batch tests. PSC of cattle manure showed a significant increase up to 109% in the methane yield compared to the untreated sample. Kinetic calculations proved also an enhancement of the degradation speed. One PSC-variant (190 °C/30 min) and untreated cattle manure were chosen for comparative fermentation tests in continuously stirred tank reactors (CSTR) in lab-scale with duplicates. In the continuous test a biogas production of 428 mL/g volatile solids (VS) (54.2% methane) for untreated manure was observed and of 456 mL/g VS (53.7% methane) for PSC-cattle-manure (190 °C/30 min). Significant tests were conducted for methane yields of all fermentation tests. Furthermore, other parameters such as furfural were investigated and discussed.
Project description:Microbial communities in residual slurry left after removal of stored liquid dairy manure have been presumed to increase methane emission during new storage, but these microbes have not been studied. While actual manure storage tanks are filled gradually, pilot- and farm-scale studies on methane emissions from such systems often use a batch approach. In this study, six pilot-scale outdoor storage tanks with (10% and 20%) and without residual slurry were filled (gradually or in batch) with fresh dairy manure, and methane and methanogenic and bacterial communities were studied during 120 days of storage. Regardless of filling type, increased residual slurry levels resulted in higher abundance of methanogens and bacteria after 65 days of storage. However, stronger correlation between methanogen abundance and methane flux was observed in gradually filled tanks. Despite some variations in the diversity of methanogens or bacteria with the presence of residual slurry, core phylotypes were not impacted. In all samples, the phylum Firmicutes predominated (?57 to 70%) bacteria: >90% were members of ClostridiaMethanocorpusculum dominated (?57 to 88%) archaeal phylotypes, while Methanosarcina gradually increased with storage time. During peak flux of methane, Methanosarcina was the major player in methane production. The results suggest that increased levels of residual slurry have little impact on the dominant methanogenic or bacterial phylotypes, but large population sizes of these organisms may result in increased methane flux during the initial phases of storage.IMPORTANCE Methane is the major greenhouse gas emitted from stored liquid dairy manure. Residual slurry left after removal of stored manure from tanks has been implicated in increasing methane emissions in new storages, and well-adapted microbial communities in it are the drivers of the increase. Linking methane flux to the abundance, diversity, and activity of microbial communities in stored slurries with different levels of residual slurry can help to improve the mitigation strategy. Mesoscale and lab-scale studies conducted so far on methane flux from manure storage systems used batch-filled tanks, while the actual condition in many farms involves gradual filling. Hence, this study provides important information toward determining levels of residual slurry that result in significant reduction of well-adapted microbial communities prior to storage, thereby reducing methane emissions from manure storage tanks filled under farm conditions.
Project description:This data set documents the duration and value of U.S. state and local electric vehicle (EV) policies in effect from 2010 to 2015. Though the focus is on policies at the state-level, local government and electric utility policies are documented when they collectively cover a majority of the state?s population or electricity customers. Data were collected first from the Alternative Fuel Database Center (AFDC), then supplemented with information taken from more than 300 government (state, city, and county) and utility websites. Nine separate EV-related policy instruments were identified, organized as capital financial incentives, operating financial incentives, preferred access incentives, and disincentives. Though most policy instruments act to support EV adoption, an increasing number of U.S. states are adopting an annual fee for EVs to support road maintenance costs. For <i>vehicle purchase incentives</i>, <i>home charger subsidies</i>, <i>vehicle license tax</i> or <i>registration fees</i>, and the <i>annual EV fee,</i> data was gathered on the money value of these policy instruments. For <i>emissions inspection exemptions</i> and <i>high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access</i>, an annual money value for each policy instrument is estimated. The other policy instruments, <i>time-of-use (TOU) rates</i> for electricity, <i>designated parking</i> and <i>free parking</i>, are reported as binary variables. For further discussion of EV policy instruments as well as interpretation of their values, see Wee et al. . EV policy instruments often differentiate between all-battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Data is similarly organized with this distinction.
Project description:Cattle manure is frequently used as an inoculum for the start-up of agricultural biogas plants or as a co-substrate in the anaerobic digestion of lignocellulosic feedstock. Ruminal microbiota are considered to be effective plant fiber degraders, but the microbes contained in manure do not necessarily reflect the rumen microbiome. The aim of this study was to compare the microbial community composition of cow rumen and manure with respect to plant fiber-digesting microbes. Bacterial and methanogenic communities of rumen and manure samples were examined by 454 amplicon sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes and mcrA genes, respectively. Rumen fluid samples were dominated by Prevotellaceae (29%), whereas Ruminococcaceae was the most abundant family in the manure samples (31%). Fibrobacteraceae (12%) and Bacteroidaceae (13%) were the second most abundant families in rumen fluid and manure, respectively. The high abundances of fiber-degrading bacteria belonging to Prevotellaceae and Fibrobacteraceae might explain the better performance of anaerobic digesters inoculated with rumen fluid. Members of the genus Methanobrevibacter were the predominant methanogens in the rumen fluid, whereas methanogenic communities of the manure samples were dominated by the candidate genus Methanoplasma. Our results suggest that inoculation or bioaugmentation with fiber-digesting rumen microbiota can enhance the anaerobic digestion of lignocellulosic biomass.
Project description:Given our vast methane reserves and the difficulty in transporting methane without substantial leaks, the conversion of methane directly into electricity would be beneficial. Microbial fuel cells harness electrical power from a wide variety of substrates through biological means; however, the greenhouse gas methane has not been used with much success previously as a substrate in microbial fuel cells to generate electrical current. Here we construct a synthetic consortium consisting of: (i) an engineered archaeal strain to produce methyl-coenzyme M reductase from unculturable anaerobic methanotrophs for capturing methane and secreting acetate; (ii) micro-organisms from methane-acclimated sludge (including Paracoccus denitrificans) to facilitate electron transfer by providing electron shuttles (confirmed by replacing the sludge with humic acids), and (iii) Geobacter sulfurreducens to produce electrons from acetate, to create a microbial fuel cell that converts methane directly into significant electrical current. Notably, this methane microbial fuel cell operates at high Coulombic efficiency.