Anaerobic co-digestion of food waste and waste activated sludge: ADM1 modelling and microbial analysis to gain insights into the two substrates' synergistic effects.


Istituto di Ricerca sulle Acque-CNR, Area della Ricerca RM1, 00015 Monterotondo (Roma), Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


The reasons for the acidification problem affecting Food Waste (FW) anaerobic digestion were explored, combining the outcomes of microbiological data (FISH and CARD-FISH) and process modelling, based on the Anaerobic Digestion Model n°1 (ADM1). Long term semi continuous experiments were carried out, both with sole FW and with Waste Activated Sludge (WAS) as a co-substrate, at varying operational conditions (0.8-2.2 g VS L-1 d-1) and FW / WAS ratios. Acidification was observed along FW mono-digestion, making it necessary to buffer the digesters; ADM1 modelling and experimental results suggested that this phenomenon was due to the methanogenic activity decline, most likely related to a deficiency in trace elements. WAS addition, even at proportions as low as 10% of the organic load, settled the acidification issue; this ability was related to the promotion of the methanogenic activity and the consequent enhancement of acetate consumption, rather than to WAS buffering capacity. The ability of the ADM1 to model processes affected by low microbial activity, such as FW mono-digestion, was also assessed. It was observed that the ADM1 was only adequate for digestions with a high activity level for both bacteria and methanogens (FISH/CARD-FISH ratio preferably >0.8) and, under these conditions, the model was able to correctly predict the relative abundance of both microbial populations, extrapolated from FISH analysis.


ADM1,Acidification,Anaerobic co-digestion,Biogas,Biowaste,Microbial activity,

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