Anaerobic digestion for simultaneous sewage sludge treatment and CO biomethanation: process performance and microbial ecology

Gang Luo, Wen Wang, Irini Angelidaki

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Syngas is produced by thermal gasification of both non-renewable and renewable sources including biomass and coal, and it consists mainly of CO, CO2 and H2. In this paper we aim to bio-convert
CO in the syngas to CH4. A novel technology for simultaneous sewage sludge treatment and CO biomethanation in an anaerobic reactor was presented. Batch experiments showed that CO was inhibitory to methanogens, but not to bacteria, at CO partial pressure between 0.25 and 1 atm under thermophilic conditions. During anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge supplemented with CO added through a hollow fiber membrane (HFM) module in continuous thermophilic reactors, CO did not inhibit the process even at a pressure as high as 1.58 atm inside the HFM, due to the low dissolved CO concentration in the liquid. Complete consumption of CO was achieved with CO gas retention time of 0.2 d. Results from high-throughput sequencing analysis showed clear differences of the microbial community structures between the samples from liquid and biofilm on the HFM in the reactor with CO addition. Species close to Methanosarcina barkeri and Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus were the two main archaeal species involved in CO biomethanation. However, the two species were distributed differently in the liquid phase and in the biofilm. Although carboxidotrophic activities test showed that CO was converted by both archaea and bacteria, the bacterial species responsible for CO conversion are unknown.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)10685–10693
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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