Thin stillage (CTS) from a dry-grind corn ethanol plant was evaluated as a carbon source for anaerobic digestion (AD) by batch and high rate semi-continuous down-flow stationary fixed film (DSFF) reactors. Biochemical methane potential (BMP) assays were carried out with CTS concentrations ranging from approximately 2,460–27,172 mg total chemical oxygen demand (TCOD) per litre, achieved by diluting CTS with clean water or a combination of clean water and treated effluent. High TCOD, SCOD and volatile solids (VS) removal efficiencies of 85 ± 2, 94 ± 0 and 82 ± 1% were achieved for CTS diluted with only clean water at an organic concentration of 21,177 mg TCOD per litre, with a methane yield of 0.30 L methane per gram TCODremoved at standard temperature and pressure (STP, 0 °C and 1 atmosphere). Batch studies investigating the use of treated effluent for dilution showed promising results. Continuous studies employed two mesophilic DSFF anaerobic digesters treating thin stillage, operated at hydraulic retention times (HRT) of 20, 14.3, 8.7, 6.3, 5 and 4.2 d. Successful digestion was achieved up to an organic loading rate (OLR) of approximately 7.4 g TCOD L−1d−1 at a 5 d HRT with a yield of 2.05 LCH4 L−1d−1 (at STP) and TCOD and VS removal efficiencies of 89 ± 3 and 85 ± 3%, respectively.
Anaerobic digestion of corn ethanol thin stillage in batch and by high-rate down-flow fixed film reactors
A. Wilkinson, K. J. Kennedy; Anaerobic digestion of corn ethanol thin stillage in batch and by high-rate down-flow fixed film reactors. Water Sci Technol 1 November 2012; 66 (9): 1834–1841. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2012.371
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