Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, Escuela de Ingenierías Industriales, Sede Dr. Mergelina, University of Valladolid, Dr. Mergelina s/n, 47011 Valladolid, Spain; Institute of Sustainable Processes, University of Valladolid, Dr. Mergelina s/n, 47011 Valladolid, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]
In-situ upgrading of biogas in a mesophilic anaerobic digester of sewage sludge by sparging H2 through a membrane was studied. Large gas recirculation rates were required to facilitate H2 transfer to the bulk liquid phase; at ∼200 L Lreactor-1 d-1, H2 utilization efficiency averaged 94% and the specific CH4 production increased from 0.38 L Lreactor-1 d-1, during conventional digestion, to 0.54 L Lreactor-1 d-1. Sludge digestion was not compromised by elevated H2 partial pressure nor by the associated rise in the pH (8.1) because of CO2 removal. In this regard, VFA accumulation was not detected and the performance of VS removal was similar to the observed without H2 supply. Microbial analysis revealed that homoacetogens were outcompeted by hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Methanoculleus sp., Methanospirillum sp., Methanolinea sp. and Methanobacterium sp. were the hydrogenotrophic archaea present over the experiment.