Anaerobic digestion of municipal solid wastes containing variable proportions of waste types
In many parts of the world there are significant seasonal variations in the production of the main organic wastes, food and green wastes. These waste types display significant differences in their biodegradation rates. This study investigated the options for ensuring process stability during the start up and operation of thermophilic high-solids anaerobic digestion of feedstock composed of varying proportions of food and green wastes. The results show that high seed sludge to feedstock ratio (or low waste loading rate) is necessary for ensuring process pH stability without chemical addition. It was also found that the proportion of green wastes in the feedstock can be used to regulate process pH, particularly when operating at high waste loading rates (or low seed sludge to feedstock ratios). The need for chemical pH correction during start-up and digestion operation decreased with increase in green wastes content of the feedstock. Food wastes were found to be more readily biodegradable leading to higher solids reduction while green wastes brought about pH stability and higher digestate solid content. Combining both waste types in various proportions brought about feedstock with varying buffering capacity and digestion performance. Thus, careful selection of feedstock composition can minimise the need for chemical pH regulation as well as reducing the cost for digestate dewatering for final disposal.