The effect of temperature and retention time on methane production and microbial community composition in staged anaerobic digesters fed with food waste.
ABSTRACT: 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:BACKGROUND:During strategic planning of a biogas plant, the local availability of resources for start-up and operation should be taken into consideration for a cost-efficient process. Because most bioethanol/sugar industries in Brazil are located in remote areas, the use of fresh cattle manure from local farms could be a solution for the inoculation of the biogas process. This study investigated the diversity and dynamics of bacterial and archaeal communities and the performance of biogas reactors inoculated with manure and a mixed inoculum from different biogas reactors as for a controlled start-up until steady state. RESULTS:Laboratory-scale biogas reactors were fed semi-continuously with sugarcane filter cake alone (mono-digestion) or together with bagasse (co-digestion). At the initial start-up, the reactors inoculated with the mixed inoculum displayed a less diverse taxonomic composition, but with higher presence of significant abundances compared to reactors inoculated with manure. However, in the final steady state, the communities of the differently inoculated reactors were very similarly characterized by predominance of the methanogenic genera Methanosarcina and Methanobacterium, the bacterial families Bacteroidaceae, Prevotellaceae and Porphyromonadaceae (phylum Bacteroidetes) and Synergistaceae (phylum Synergistetes). In the mono-digestion reactors, the methanogenic communities varied greater than in the co-digestion reactors independently of the inoculation strategy. CONCLUSION:The microbial communities involved in the biogas production from waste products of the Brazilian bioethanol/sugar industry were relatively similar and stable at the reactor's steady phase independently of the inoculum source (manure or mixed inoculum). Therefore, the locally available manure can be used as inoculum for start-up of the biogas process, since it also contains the microbial resources needed. The strong fluctuation of methanogenic communities in mono-digestion reactors indicates higher risk of process instability than in co-digestion 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: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:Continuous cultures in chemostats have proven their value in microbiology, microbial ecology, systems biology and bioprocess engineering, among others. In these systems, microbial growth and ecosystem performance can be quantified under stable and defined environmental conditions. This is essential when linking microbial diversity to ecosystem function. Here, a new system to test this link in anaerobic, methanogenic microbial communities is introduced. Rigorously replicated experiments or a suitable experimental design typically require operating several chemostats in parallel. However, this is labor intensive, especially when measuring biogas production. Commercial solutions for multiplying reactors performing continuous anaerobic digestion exist but are expensive and use comparably large reactor volumes, requiring the preparation of substantial amounts of media. Here, a flexible system of Lab-scale Automated and Multiplexed Anaerobic Chemostat system (LAMACs) with a working volume of 200 mL is introduced. Sterile feeding, biomass wasting and pressure monitoring are automated. One module containing six reactors fits the typical dimensions of a lab bench. Thanks to automation, time required for reactor operation and maintenance are reduced compared to traditional lab-scale systems. Several modules can be used together, and so far the parallel operation of 30 reactors was demonstrated. The chemostats are autoclavable. Parameters like reactor volume, flow rates and operating temperature can be freely set. The robustness of the system was tested in a two-month long experiment in which three inocula in four replicates, i.e., twelve continuous digesters were monitored. Statistically significant differences in the biogas production between inocula were observed. In anaerobic digestion, biogas production and consequently pressure development in a closed environment is a proxy for ecosystem performance. The precision of the pressure measurement is thus crucial. The measured maximum and minimum rates of gas production could be determined at the same precision. The LAMACs is a tool that enables us to put in practice the often-demanded need for replication and rigorous testing in microbial ecology as well as bioprocess engineering.
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:Methanogenesis and sulfidogenesis, the major microbial reduction reactions occurring in the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, compete for common substrates. Therefore, the balance between methanogenic and sulfidogenic activities is important for efficient biogas production. In this study, changes in methanogenic and sulfidogenic performances in response to changes in organic loading rate (OLR) were examined in two digesters treating sulfur-rich macroalgal waste under mesophilic and thermophilic conditions, respectively. Both methanogenesis and sulfidogenesis were largely suppressed under thermophilic relative to mesophilic conditions, regardless of OLR. However, the suppressive effect was even more significant for sulfidogenesis, which may suggest an option for H2S control. The reactor microbial communities developed totally differently according to reactor temperature, with the abundance of both methanogens and sulfate-reducing bacteria being significantly higher under mesophilic conditions. In both reactors, sulfidogenic activity increased with increasing OLR. The findings of this study help to understand how temperature affects sulfidogenesis and methanogenesis during AD.
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.
Project description:Inhibition effect of humic acid (HA) on anaerobic digestion of cellulose and xylan and the mitigation potential of the inhibition were evaluated in controlled fed batch reactors at 30 °C and a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 20 days. Reactor performances were evaluated by biogas production and metabolite measurements for 220 days. Microbial population dynamics of the reactors were monitored with next-generation 16S rRNA gene sequencing at nine different sampling times. Our results showed that increasing levels of HA inhibited the hydrolysis efficiency of the digestion by 40% and concomitantly reduced the methane yield. Addition of hydrolytic enzymes helped to reverse the negative effects of HA, whereas calcium addition did not reverse HA inhibition. Microbiological analyses showed that the relative abundance of hydrolytic/fermentative bacterial groups such as Clostridiales, Bacteroidales and Anaerolineales was significantly lowered by the presence of HA. HA also affected the archaeal populations. Mostly hydrogenotrophic methanogens were negatively affected by HA. The relative abundance of Methanobacteriaceae, Methanomicrobiales-WCHA208 and Unassigned Thermoplasmata WCHA1-57 were negatively affected by the presence of HA, whereas Methanosaetacea was not affected.
Project description:This study aimed at the investigation of the mechanisms of acidogenesis, which is a key process during anaerobic digestion. To expose possible bottlenecks, specific activities of the key enzymes of acidification, such as acetate kinase (Ack, 0.23-0.99 U mg(-1) protein), butyrate kinase (Buk, < 0.03 U mg(-1) protein) and butyryl-CoA:acetate-CoA transferase (But, 3.24-7.64 U mg(-1) protein), were determined in cell free extracts of biogas reactor content from three different biogas reactors. Furthermore, the detection of Ack was successful via Western blot analysis. Quantification of corresponding functional genes encoding Buk (buk) and But (but) was not feasible, although an amplification was possible. Thus, phylogenetic trees were constructed based on respective gene fragments. Four new clades of possible butyrate-producing bacteria were postulated, as well as bacteria of the genera Roseburia or Clostridium identified. The low Buk activity was in contrast to the high specific But activity in the analysed samples. Butyrate formation via Buk activity does barely occur in the investigated biogas reactor. Specific enzyme activities (Ack, Buk and But) in samples drawn from three different biogas reactors correlated with ammonia and ammonium concentrations (NH₃ and NH₄(+)-N), and a negative dependency can be postulated. Thus, high concentrations of NH₃ and NH₄(+)-N may lead to a bottleneck in acidogenesis due to decreased specific acidogenic enzyme activities.
Project description:Macro-algae represent an ideal resource of third generation biofuels, but their use necessitates a refinement of commonly used anaerobic digestion processes. In a previous study, contrasting mixes of dairy slurry and the macro-alga Ulva lactuca were anaerobically digested in mesophilic continuously stirred tank reactors for 40 weeks. Higher proportions of U. lactuca in the feedstock led to inhibited digestion and rapid accumulation of volatile fatty acids, requiring a reduced organic loading rate. In this study, 16S pyrosequencing was employed to characterise the microbial communities of both the weakest (R1) and strongest (R6) performing reactors from the previous work as they developed over a 39 and 27-week period respectively. Comparing the reactor communities revealed clear differences in taxonomy, predicted metabolic orientation and mechanisms of inhibition, while constrained canonical analysis (CCA) showed ammonia and biogas yield to be the strongest factors differentiating the two reactor communities. Significant biomarker taxa and predicted metabolic activities were identified for viable and failing anaerobic digestion of U. lactuca. Acetoclastic methanogens were inhibited early in R1 operation, followed by a gradual decline of hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Near-total loss of methanogens led to an accumulation of acetic acid that reduced performance of R1, while a slow decline in biogas yield in R6 could be attributed to inhibition of acetogenic rather than methanogenic activity. The improved performance of R6 is likely to have been as a result of the large Methanosarcina population, which enabled rapid removal of acetic acid, providing favourable conditions for substrate degradation.