Co-digestion processes to increase biogas production

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Anaerobic digestion is a collection of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen: the process is commonly used in mainstream wastewater treatments and can also be use to produce fuels.
The term "co-digestion" refers to an optimization of the process in which you simultaneously feed several different kinds of substrates. By doing so, not only an increase in the biogas production can be achieved in existing treatment plants, but also synergic effects can be obtained: as a matter of fact, the biogas production can be higher than the sum of the expected production considering the single components.
The synergic effects are due to several reasons, such as a better nutrient balance, dilution of inhibitor compounds and growth of wider and more diverse microbial communities. Co-digestion may also have positive effects on digested sludge quality and stabilization.

Planned activities within PerFORM WATER 2030

The experimental activities regarding co-digestion processes for biogas production increase are part of the Recovery of energy and materials research line included in PerFORM WATER 2030. The design and construction of a pilot scale digester is foreseen as a means to adequately assess the benefits that can be obtained by co-digestion in comparison to the most commonly used techniques.

Objectives and expected results

  • Biogas production increase and sludge stabilization improvement.

  • Identification of the key parameters that determine the stability of the process.

  • Development of a model for co-digestion process control.

Description of the activities

  • Design and construction of a pilot scale digester for treatment of: waste water treatment sludge, microalghe grown in digestate liquid fraction, OFMSW (Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste) and other food waste.

  • Start-up, operation and monitoring of pilot scale digester, testing different operating condition in order to optimize the process.

  • Execution of specific lab test to obtain a biomass characterization and modellize the process.

Pilot site

The experimental activities will be located at San Giuliano Milanese West WWTP (Wastewater treatment plant) operated by CAP Group.
For further information, please refer to the specific web-page dedicated to demonstration sites of PerFORM WATER 2030.

Partners involved

SEAM engineering led engineering design and construction of pilot scale plant, while project basis and process support for design were ensured by Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI), which also gave a scientific support. Amongst POLIMI's activities it's also foreseen the support for the plant operation and the development of the process modellization, which will permit to develop a control system which can be used for future real scale plant control.

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