Hydrodynamic disintegration of thickened excess sludge and maize silage to intensify methane production: Energy effect and impact on microbial communities

Agnieszka Garlicka, Katarzyna Umiejewska, Per Halkjær Nielsen, Adam Muszyński

The aim of this project was to study the combination of two methods to increase methane production: feedstock pretreatment by hydrodynamic disintegration and co-digestion of maize silage (MS) with thickened excess sludge (TES). Disintegration of TES alone resulted in a 15% increase in specific methane production from 0.192 Nml/gVS (TES + MS) to 0.220 Nml/gVS (pretreated TES + MS). The energy balance revealed additional energy (0.14 Wh) would cover only the energy expenditure for the mechanical pretreatment and would not allow for net energy profit. Identification of the methanogenic consortia by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing revealed that Chloroflexi, Bacteroidota, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria and Actinobacteriota were five most abundant bacteria phyla, with Methanothrix and Methanolinea as the dominant methanogens. Principal component analysis did not show any effect of feedstock pretreatment on methanogenic consortia. Instead, the composition of inoculum was the decisive factor in shaping the microbial community structure.

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