Globally, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) industry is booming and biogas, the most sustainable biofuel, produced via AD is in an exponential market growth curve. According to a November 2020 report from US Energy Information Administration (EIA), “25 large dairies and livestock operations in the United States produced a total of about 224 million kWh (or 0.2 billion kWh) of electricity from biogas”. However, the growth of AD and the cost-effective use of the generated biogas are hindered by the inconsistencies (composition, suspended solids, flow rate, etc.) of the incoming waste stream and the associated biogas quality (due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas). A pretreatment step prior to an AD unit can promote consistency in the incoming stream, minimize the suspended solids; and thereby insures the efficiency of AD. In this study, we evaluated the method of pretreatment of waste streams from three grain processing industries, where 1) we adjusted the pH of a stream corresponding to its isoelectric point (zero zeta-potential), 2) removed solids (and their corresponding COD) that precipitated, and 3) produced a consistent composition stream to feed the AD process. For grain processing industry, the precipitated solids can be returned to their process – thus integrating the pretreatment with the rest of the process. The pH pre-treatment should not add any additional cost to the plant since the pH of the waste streams from grain processing plant needs to be raised per plant permits prior to disposal. Our lab and pilot AD studies showed a positive effect of such pretreatment on these waste streams in terms of increased biogas production (11–60%) and COD removal (12–60%), and in some instances reduction in H2S content in biogas (8%). This study clearly demonstrated that such a pretreatment method is economical and is effective to improve AD performance on waste waters from grain processing industries.
Part of the book: Anaerobic Digestion in Built Environments