Biogas production from novel substrates

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Allen, Eoin
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University College Cork
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Biogas production is the conversion of the organic material into methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) under anaerobic conditions. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is widely used in continental and Scandinavian communities as both a waste treatment option and a source of renewable energy. Ireland however lags behind this European movement. Numerous feedstocks exist which could be digested and used to fuel a renewable transport fleet in Ireland. An issue exists with the variety of feedstocks; these need to be assessed and quantified to ascertain their potential resource and application to AD. From literature the ideal C:N ratio is between 25 and 30:1. Low levels of C:N (<15) can lead to problems with ammonia inhibition. Within the digester a plentiful supply of nutrients and a balanced C:N is required for stable performance. Feedstocks were sampled from a range of over 100 different substrates in Ireland including for first, second and third generation feedstocks. The C:N ranged from 81:1 (Winter Oats) to 7:1 (Silage Effluent). The BMP yields were recorded ranging from 38 ± 2.0 L CH4 kg−1 VS for pig slurry (weaning pigs) to 805 ± 57 L CH4 kg−1 VS for used cooking oil (UCO). However the selection of the best preforming feedstock in terms of C:N ratio or BMP yield alone is not sufficiently adequate. A total picture has to be created which includes C:N ratio, BMP yield, harvest yield and availability. Potential feedstocks which best meet these requirements include for Grass silage, Milk processing waste (MPW) and Saccharina latissima. MPW has a potential of meeting over 6 times the required energy for Ireland’s 2020 transport in energy targets. S. Latissima recorded a yield of over 10,000 GJ ha-1 yr-1 which out ranks traditional second generation biofuels by a factor of more than 4.
Allen, E. 2015. Biogas production from novel substrates. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.