Changing Feeding Regimes To Demonstrate Flexible Biogas Production: Effects on Process Performance, Microbial Community Structure, and Methanogenesis Pathways.
ABSTRACT: Flexible biogas production that adapts biogas output to energy demand can be regulated by changing feeding regimes. In this study, the effect of changes in feeding intervals on process performance, microbial community structure, and the methanogenesis pathway was investigated. Three different feeding regimes (once daily, every second day, and every 2 h) at the same organic loading rate were studied in continuously stirred tank reactors treating distiller's dried grains with solubles. A larger amount of biogas was produced after feeding in the reactors fed less frequently (once per day and every second day), whereas the amount remained constant in the reactor fed more frequently (every 2 h), indicating the suitability of the former for the flexible production of biogas. Compared to the conventional more frequent feeding regimes, a methane yield that was up to 14% higher and an improved stability of the process against organic overloading were achieved by employing less frequent feeding regimes. The community structures of bacteria and methanogenic archaea were monitored by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of 16S rRNA and mcrA genes, respectively. The results showed that the composition of the bacterial community varied under the different feeding regimes, and the observed T-RFLP patterns were best explained by the differences in the total ammonia nitrogen concentrations, H2 levels, and pH values. However, the methanogenic community remained stable under all feeding regimes, with the dominance of the Methanosarcina genus followed by that of the Methanobacterium genus. Stable isotope analysis showed that the average amount of methane produced during each feeding event by acetoclastic and hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis was not influenced by the three different feeding regimes.
Project description:Knowledge of the microbial consortia participating in the generation of biogas, especially in methane formation, is still limited. To overcome this limitation, the methanogenic archaeal communities in six full-scale biogas plants supplied with different liquid manures and renewable raw materials as substrates were analyzed by a polyphasic approach. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was carried out to quantify the methanogenic Archaea in the reactor samples. In addition, quantitative real-time PCR (Q-PCR) was used to support and complete the FISH analysis. Five of the six biogas reactors were dominated by hydrogenotrophic Methanomicrobiales. The average values were between 60 to 63% of archaeal cell counts (FISH) and 61 to 99% of archaeal 16S rRNA gene copies (Q-PCR). Within this order, Methanoculleus was found to be the predominant genus as determined by amplified rRNA gene restriction analysis. The aceticlastic family Methanosaetaceae was determined to be the dominant methanogenic group in only one biogas reactor, with average values for Q-PCR and FISH between 64% and 72%. Additionally, in three biogas reactors hitherto uncharacterized but potentially methanogenic species were detected. They showed closest accordance with nucleotide sequences of the hitherto unclassified CA-11 (85%) and ARC-I (98%) clusters. These results point to hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis as a predominant pathway for methane synthesis in five of the six analyzed biogas plants. In addition, a correlation between the absence of Methanosaetaceae in the biogas reactors and high concentrations of total ammonia (sum of NH(3) and NH(4)(+)) was observed.
Project description:Trace elements (TE) play an essential role in all organisms due to their functions in enzyme complexes. In anaerobic digesters, control, and supplementation of TEs lead to stable and more efficient methane production processes while TE deficits cause process imbalances. However, the underlying metabolic mechanisms and the adaptation of the affected microbial communities to such deficits are not yet fully understood. Here, we investigated the microbial community dynamics and resulting process changes induced by TE deprivation. Two identical lab-scale continuous stirred tank reactors fed with distiller's grains and supplemented with TEs (cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, tungsten) and a commercial iron additive were operated in parallel. After 72 weeks of identical operation, the feeding regime of one reactor was changed by omitting TE supplements and reducing the amount of iron additive. Both reactors were operated for further 21 weeks. Various process parameters (biogas production and composition, total solids and volatile solids, TE concentration, volatile fatty acids, total ammonium nitrogen, total organic acids/alkalinity ratio, and pH) and the composition and activity of the microbial communities were monitored over the total experimental time. While the methane yield remained stable, the concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, total ammonia nitrogen, and acetate increased in the TE-depleted reactor compared to the well-supplied control reactor. Methanosarcina and Methanoculleus dominated the methanogenic communities in both reactors. However, the activity ratio of these two genera was shown to depend on TE supplementation explainable by different TE requirements of their energy conservation systems. Methanosarcina dominated the well-supplied anaerobic digester, pointing to acetoclastic methanogenesis as the dominant methanogenic pathway. Under TE deprivation, Methanoculleus and thus hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis was favored although Methanosarcina was not overgrown by Methanoculleus. Multivariate statistics revealed that the decline of nickel, cobalt, molybdenum, tungsten, and manganese most strongly influenced the balance of mcrA transcripts from both genera. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens seem to be favored under nickel- and cobalt-deficient conditions as their metabolism requires less nickel-dependent enzymes and corrinoid cofactors than the acetoclastic and methylotrophic pathways. Thus, TE supply is critical to sustain the activity of the versatile high-performance methanogen Methanosarcina.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Although interactions between microorganisms involved in biogas production are largely uncharted, it is commonly accepted that methanogenic Archaea are essential for the process. Methanogens thrive in various environments, but the most extensively studied communities come from biogas plants. In this study, we employed a metagenomic analysis of deeply sequenced methanogenic communities, which allowed for comparison of taxonomic and functional diversity as well as identification of microorganisms directly involved in various stages of methanogenesis pathways. RESULTS:A comprehensive metagenomic approach was used to compare seven environmental communities, originating from an agricultural biogas plant, cattle-associated samples, a lowland bog, sewage sludge from a wastewater treatment plant and sediments from an ancient gold mine. In addition to the native consortia, two laboratory communities cultivated on maize silage as the sole substrate were also analyzed. Results showed that all anaerobic communities harbored genes of all known methanogenesis pathways, but their abundance varied greatly between environments and that genes were encoded by different methanogens. Identification of microorganisms directly involved in different stages of methane production revealed that hydrogenotrophic methanogens, such as Methanoculleus, Methanobacterium, Methanobrevibacter, Methanocorpusculum or Methanoregula, predominated in most native communities, whereas acetoclastic Methanosaeta seemed to be the key methanogen in the wastewater treatment plant. Furthermore, in many environments, the methylotrophic pathway carried out by representatives of Methanomassiliicoccales, such as Candidatus Methanomethylophilus and Candidatus Methanoplasma, seemed to play an important role in methane production. In contrast, in stable laboratory reactors substrate versatile Methanosarcina predominated. CONCLUSIONS:The metagenomic approach presented in this study allowed for deep exploration and comparison of nine environments in which methane production occurs. Different abundance of methanogenesis-related functions was observed and the functions were analyzed in the phylogenetic context in order to identify microbes directly involved in methane production. In addition, a comparison of two metagenomic analytical tools, MG-RAST and MetAnnotate, revealed that combination of both allows for a precise characterization of methanogenic communities.
Project description:Anaerobic digestion is a widely used technology for waste stabilization and generation of biogas, and has recently emerged as a potentially important process for the production of high value volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and alcohols. Here, three reactors were seeded with inoculum from a stably performing methanogenic digester, and selective operating conditions (37°C and 55°C; 12 day and 4 day solids retention time) were applied to restrict methanogenesis while maintaining hydrolysis and fermentation. Replicated experiments performed at each set of operating conditions led to reproducible VFA production profiles which could be correlated with specific changes in microbial community composition. The mesophilic reactor at short solids retention time showed accumulation of propionate and acetate (42 ± 2% and 15 ± 6% of CODhydrolyzed, respectively), and dominance of Fibrobacter and Bacteroidales. Acetate accumulation (>50% of CODhydrolyzed) was also observed in the thermophilic reactors, which were dominated by Clostridium. Under all tested conditions, there was a shift from acetoclastic to hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, and a reduction in methane production by >50% of CODhydrolyzed. Our results demonstrate that shortening the SRT and increasing the temperature are effective strategies for driving microbial communities towards controlled production of high levels of specific volatile fatty acids.
Project description:This study investigated whether biogas reactor performance, including microbial community development, in response to a change in substrate composition is influenced by initial inoculum source. For the study, reactors previously operated with the same grass?manure mixture for more than 120 days and started with two different inocula were used. These reactors initially showed great differences depending on inoculum source, but eventually showed similar performance and overall microbial community structure. At the start of the present experiment, the substrate was complemented with milled feed wheat, added all at once or divided into two portions. The starting hypothesis was that process performance depends on initial inoculum source and microbial diversity, and thus that reactor performance is influenced by the feeding regime. In response to the substrate change, all reactors showed increases and decreases in volumetric and specific methane production, respectively. However, specific methane yield and development of the microbial community showed differences related to the initial inoculum source, confirming the hypothesis. However, the different feeding regimes had only minor effects on process performance and overall community structure, but still induced differences in the cellulose-degrading community and in cellulose degradation.
Project description:Background:Food waste is a large bio-resource that may be converted to biogas that can be used for heat and power production, or as transport fuel. We studied the anaerobic digestion of food waste in a staged digestion system consisting of separate acidogenic and methanogenic reactor vessels. Two anaerobic digestion parameters were investigated. First, we tested the effect of 55 vs. 65 °C acidogenic reactor temperature, and second, we examined the effect of reducing the hydraulic retention time (HRT) from 17 to 10 days in the methanogenic reactor. Process parameters including biogas production were monitored, and the microbial community composition was characterized by 16S amplicon sequencing. Results:Neither organic matter removal nor methane production were significantly different for the 55 and 65 °C systems, despite the higher acetate and butyrate concentrations observed in the 65 °C acidogenic reactor. Ammonium levels in the methanogenic reactors were about 950 mg/L NH4+ when HRT was 17 days but were reduced to 550 mg/L NH4+ at 10 days HRT. Methane production increased from ~ 3600 mL/day to ~ 7800 when the HRT was decreased. Each reactor had unique environmental parameters and a correspondingly unique microbial community. In fact, the distinct values in each reactor for just two parameters, pH and ammonium concentration, recapitulate the separation seen in microbial community composition. The thermophilic and mesophilic digesters were particularly distinct from one another. The 55 °C acidogenic reactor was mainly dominated by Thermoanaerobacterium and Ruminococcus, whereas the 65 °C acidogenic reactor was initially dominated by Thermoanaerobacterium but later was overtaken by Coprothermobacter. The acidogenic reactors were lower in diversity (34-101 observed OTU0.97, 1.3-2.5 Shannon) compared to the methanogenic reactors (472-513 observed OTU0.97, 5.1-5.6 Shannon). The microbial communities in the acidogenic reactors were > 90% Firmicutes, and the Euryarchaeota were higher in relative abundance in the methanogenic reactors. Conclusions:The digestion systems had similar biogas production and COD removal rates, and hence differences in temperature, NH4+ concentration, and pH in the reactors resulted in distinct but similarly functioning microbial communities over this range of operating parameters. Consequently, one could reduce operational costs by lowering both the hydrolysis temperature from 65 to 55 °C and the HRT from 17 to 10 days.
Project description:The biotechnological process of biogas production from organic material is carried out by a diverse microbial community under anaerobic conditions. However, the complex and sensitive microbial network present in anaerobic degradation of organic material can be disturbed by increased ammonia concentration introduced into the system by protein-rich substrates and imbalanced feeding. Here, we report on a simulated increase of ammonia concentration in a fed batch lab-scale biogas reactor experiment. Two treatment conditions were used simulating total ammonia nitrogen concentrations of 4.9 and 8.0 g/L with four replicate reactors. Each reactor was monitored concerning methane generation and microbial composition using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, while the transcriptional activity of the overall process was investigated by metatranscriptomic analysis. This allowed investigating the response of the microbial community in terms of species composition and transcriptional activity to a rapid upshift to high ammonia conditions. Clostridia and Methanomicrobiales dominated the microbial community throughout the entire experiment under both experimental conditions, while Methanosarcinales were only present in minor abundance. Transcription analysis demonstrated clostridial dominance with respect to genes encoding for enzymes of the hydrolysis step (cellulase, EC 126.96.36.199) as well as dominance of key genes for enzymes of the methanogenic pathway (methyl-CoM reductase, EC 188.8.131.52; heterodisulfide reductase, EC 184.108.40.206). Upon ammonia shock, the selected marker genes showed significant changes in transcriptional activity. Cellulose hydrolysis as well as methanogenesis were significantly reduced at high ammonia concentrations as indicated by reduced transcription levels of the corresponding genes. Based on these experiments we concluded that, apart from the methanogenic archaea, hydrolytic cellulose-degrading microorganisms are negatively affected by high ammonia concentrations. Further, Acholeplasma and Erysipelotrichia showed lower abundance under increased ammonia concentrations and thus might serve as indicator species for an earlier detection in order to counteract against ammonia crises.
Project description:A haloalkaline anaerobic microbial community obtained from soda lake sediments was used to inoculate anaerobic reactors for the production of methane rich biogas. The microalga Spirulina was successfully digested by the haloalkaline microbial consortium at alkaline conditions (pH 10, 2.0 M Na(+)). Continuous biogas production was observed and the obtained biogas was rich in methane, up to 96%. Alkaline medium acted as a CO2 scrubber which resulted in low amounts of CO2 and no traces of H2S in the produced biogas. A hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 15 days and 0.25 g Spirulina L(-1) day(-1) organic loading rate (OLR) were identified as the optimal operational parameters. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis showed that the hydrolysis of the supplied substrate was mainly carried out by Bacteroidetes of the "ML635J-40 aquatic group" while the hydrogenotrophic pathway was the main producer of methane in a methanogenic community dominated by Methanocalculus.
Project description:Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a complex multi-stage process relying on the activity of highly diverse microbial communities including hydrolytic, acidogenic and syntrophic acetogenic bacteria as well as methanogenic archaea. The lower diversity of methanogenic archaea compared to the bacterial groups involved in AD and the corresponding lack of functional redundancy cause a stronger susceptibility of methanogenesis to unfavorable process conditions such as trace element (TE) deprivation, thus controlling the stability of the overall process. Here, we investigated the effects of a slowly increasing TE deficit on the methanogenic community function in a semi-continuous biogas process. The aim of the study was to understand how methanogens in digester communities cope with TE limitation and sustain their growth and metabolic activity. Two lab-scale biogas reactors fed with distillers grains and supplemented with TEs were operated in parallel for 76 weeks before one of the reactors was subjected to TE deprivation, leading to a decline of cobalt and molybdenum concentrations from 0.9 to 0.2 mg/L, nickel concentrations from 2.9 to 0.8 mg/L, manganese concentrations from 38 to 18 mg/L, and tungsten concentrations from 1.4 to 0.2 mg/L. Amplicon sequencing of mcrA genes revealed Methanosarcina (72%) and Methanoculleus (23%) as the predominant methanogens in the undisturbed reactors. With increasing TE limitation, the relative abundance of Methanosarcina dropped to 67% and a slight decrease of acetoclastic methanogenic activity was observed in batch tests with 13C-methyl-labeled acetate, suggesting a shift toward syntrophic acetate oxidation coupled to hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. Metaproteome analysis revealed abundance shifts of the enzymes involved in methanogenic pathways. Proteins involved in methylotrophic and acetoclastic methanogenesis decreased in abundance while formylmethanofuran dehydrogenase from Methanosarcinaceae increased, confirming our hypothesis of a shift from acetoclastic to hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis by Methanosarcina. Both Methanosarcina and Methanoculleus increased the abundance of N5-methyltetrahydromethanopterin-coenzyme M methyltransferase and methyl-coenzyme M reductase. However, these efforts to preserve the ion motive force for energy conservation were seemingly more successful in Methanoculleus. We conclude that both methanogenic genera use different strategies to stabilize their energy balance under TE limitation. Methanosarcina switched from TE expensive pathways (methylotrophic and acetoclastic methanogenesis) to hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. Methanoculleus showed a higher robustness and was favored over the more fastidious Methanosarcina, thus stabilizing reactor performance under TE limitation.
Project description:The anaerobic digestion of filter cake and its co-digestion with bagasse, and the effect of gradual increase of the organic loading rate (OLR) from start-up to overload were investigated. Understanding the influence of environmental and technical parameters on the development of particular methanogenic pathway in the biogas process was an important aim for the prediction and prevention of process failure. The rapid accumulation of volatile organic acids at high OLR of 3.0 to 4.0 gvs·L?¹·day?¹ indicated strong process inhibition. Methanogenic community dynamics of the reactors was monitored by stable isotope composition of biogas and molecular biological analysis. A potential shift toward the aceticlastic methanogenesis was observed along with the OLR increase under stable reactor operating conditions. Reactor overloading and process failure were indicated by the tendency to return to a predominance of hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis with rising abundances of the orders Methanobacteriales and Methanomicrobiales and drop of the genus Methanosarcina abundance.