Hybrid biogas upgrading in a two-stage thermophilic reactor

Viola Corbellini, Panagiotis Kougias*, Laura Treu, Ilaria Bassani, Francesca Malpei, Irini Angelidaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The aim of this study is to propose a hybrid biogas upgrading configuration composed of two-stage thermophilic reactors. Hydrogen is directly injected in the first stage reactor. The output gas from the first reactor (in-situ biogas upgrade) is subsequently transferred to a second upflow reactor (ex-situ upgrade), in which enriched hydrogenotrophic culture is responsible for the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide to methane. The overall objective of the work was to perform an initial methane enrichment in the in-situ reactor, avoiding deterioration of the process due to elevated pH levels, and subsequently, to complete the biogas upgrading process in the ex-situ chamber. The methane content in the first stage reactor reached on average 87% and the corresponding value in the second stage was 91%, with a maximum of 95%. A remarkable accumulation of volatile fatty acids was observed in the first reactor (in-situ) after 8 days of continuous hydrogen injection reaching a concentration of 5.6 g/L. Nevertheless, after an adaptation period, the system managed to recover and the volatile fatty acids decreased to 2.5 g/L. No pH drop was recorded during the period characterised by increased volatile fatty acids concentration mainly due to the consumption of the endogenous carbon dioxide by hydrogenotrophic methanogens. The effect of hydrogen injection on the microbial community in both reactors was analysed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The results demonstrated an increment in relative abundance of hydrogenotrophic methanogens and homoacetogens in the in-situ reactor, while the microbial community in the ex-situ chamber was simpler and dominated by hydrogenotrophic methanogens.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Pages (from-to)1-10
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Biological Materials
  • Biology
  • Gas Fuels
  • Chemical Products Generally
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biogas upgrading
  • Hybrid configuration
  • Hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis
  • Power to gas
  • Biogas
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Fuel injection
  • Hydrogen
  • Methane
  • Methanogens
  • RNA
  • Hybrid configurations
  • Hydrogenotrophic methanogens
  • Methane enrichments
  • Microbial communities
  • Thermophilic reactors
  • Volatile fatty acids


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