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Waste Management 28 (2008) 18011808


www.elsevier.com/locate/wasman

Two-phase anaerobic digestion within a solid


waste/wastewater integrated management system
G. De Gioannis a, L.F. Diaz b, A. Muntoni a,*, A. Pisanu a
a

DIGITA, Department of Geoengineering and Environmental Technologies, University of Cagliari, Piazza DArmi 09123 Cagliari, Italy
b
CalRecovery, Inc., 2454 Stanwell Drive, Concord, California 94520, USA
Accepted 20 November 2007
Available online 10 January 2008

Abstract
A two-phase, wet anaerobic digestion process was tested at laboratory scale using mechanically pre-treated municipal solid waste
(MSW) as the substrate. The proposed process scheme diers from others due to the integration of the MSW and wastewater treatment
cycles, which makes it possible to avoid the recirculation of process euent. The results obtained show that the supplying of facultative
biomass, drawn from the wastewater aeration tank, to the solid waste acidogenic reactor allows an improvement of the performance of
the rst phase of the process which is positively reected on the second one. The proposed process performed successfully, adopting mesophilic conditions and a relatively short hydraulic retention time in the methanogenic reactor, as well as high values of organic loading
rate. Signicant VS removal eciency and biogas production were achieved. Moreover, the methanogenic reactor quickly reached optimal conditions for a stable methanogenic phase. Studies conducted elsewhere also conrm the feasibility of integrating the treatment of
the organic fraction of MSW with that of wastewater.
2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The biodegradable organic matter contained in municipal solid waste (MSW) probably is one of the most problematic fractions to deal with: it is dicult to sort if
mixed with the other fractions, it aects the performance
of incinerators in terms of energy recovery and it is the
cause of the long lasting emissions from sanitary landlls
(Cossu et al., 2003; Soyez and Plickert, 2002; Zach et al.,
2000). European legislation requires a drastic reduction
of the amount of biodegradable organic residues to be
landlled. The European MSW management policy relies
on separate collection in order to allow recycling of most
of the packaging waste and the production of high quality
compost from the biodegradable organic fraction. However, recycling through separate collection and composting
of the entire MSW biodegradable fraction is dicult to

Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 70 6755546; fax: +39 70 6755523.


E-mail address: amuntoni@unica.it (A. Muntoni).

0956-053X/$ - see front matter 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2007.11.005

achieve. Energy recovery through anaerobic digestion represents a complementary option. Mechanical pre-treatment
of residual MSW can be performed in order to produce two
streams: a rst one, characterized by a signicantly high
heating value, to be utilized as refuse derived fuel (RDF)
and a second one which would need biological stabilization
before it is disposed. As far as this second stream is concerned, a process based on anaerobic digestion followed
by aerobic treatment combines well the need for stabilization with the opportunity for energy recovery through biogas production and exploitation (Diaz et al., 1981; De
Baere, 2000).
Currently several companies and researchers propose
their own anaerobic process schemes, which usually are
classied on the basis either of the total solid (TS) content
as wet digestion (TS content: 1015%) and dry digestion
(TS content: 2540%), or of the adopted temperature
regimes as mesophilic (3040 C) and thermophilic digestion (5060 C). According to a number of research activities, good results are achievable by a two-phase, wet
mesophilic digestion process (Bhattacharayya et al., 2007;

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G. De Gioannis et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 18011808

Bolzonella et al., 2003; Bouallagui et al., 2005; Cecchi et al.,


2002; Maharaj and Elefsiniotis, 2001; Mata Alvarez,
2002b; Pavan et al., 2000; Schober et al., 1999; Zhang
et al., 2005). The separation of the hydrolysis-acetogenesis
and methanogenesis phases results, in fact, in a higher process stability; furthermore, the dilution of inhibiting substances contained in the inow, the optimization of the
contact between biomass and substrate and the possibility
to treat a wider range of waste (MSW, residues from food
industry, etc.) are achieved. With respect to the temperature regimes, mesophilic digestion has been widely adopted
for anaerobic treatment due to the good operational performance, whilst the use of thermophilic processes has been
limited, mainly due to poor supernatant quality and process instability caused, for example, by chronically high
propionate concentration (Kim et al., 2002).
Although it has been reported that anaerobic consortia
are able to adapt to adverse conditions if they are given
adequate time (Speece, 1983, 1996), anaerobic digestion
processes are often characterized by an intrinsic instability
deriving from the high sensitivity of the anaerobic biomass
to a number of inhibiting or toxic substances (Garc`aHeras, 2002; Salminen and Rintala, 2002; Vandevivere
et al., 2002), either endogenous (ammonia and organic
acids) or exogenous (heavy metals and cations like K+,
Na+, Mg++, Ca++). It is a general opinion that the recirculation of the euent in a wet anaerobic digestion processes,
often in signicant quantities to achieve the desired moisture content in the solid waste, can lead to the accumulation of inhibiting substances (Gallert et al., 2003).
A two-phase, mesophilic wet anaerobic digestion process was tested at the laboratory scale using mechanically
pre-treated MSW as the substrate. Recirculation of the
euent was avoided assuming a possible integration of
the MSW and municipal wastewater treatment cycles. In
fact, this integrated management would allow:
 the supply of facultative biomass and liquid phase to the
solid waste acidogenic reactor through the utilization of
activated sludge from the aeration tank of a wastewater
treatment plant;
 the supply of anaerobic sludge to the solid waste methanogenic reactor drawing it from the sewage sludge
digester of a wastewater treatment plant;
 the treatment of the euent of the solid waste treatment
plant at the wastewater treatment plant; and
 the use of excess capacity in conventional sewage sludge
digesters.
The supply of the easy to obtain activated sludge to the
acidogenic reactor leads to several advantages: (1) the rst
phase of the process, which includes hydrolysis that is considered the rate-limiting step of the entire solid waste
anaerobic digestion process, benets by the considerable
presence and high growth yields of the facultative biomass
(Kim and Speece, 2002; Schober et al., 1999); (2) activated
sludge is characterized by a low content of inert material

and sand (Kim and Speece, 2002); (3) nitrogen, as well as


other nutrients, which are not present at sucient levels
in MSW, are provided (Stroot et al., 2001); and nally,
(4) the potential risk of accumulation of inhibiting substances is reduced due to the avoidance of euent
recirculation.
The expected improved performance of the acidogenic
phase and the possible avoidance of inhibiting eects could
allow the achievement of signicant conversion eciency
of the substrate and adequate process stability, despite
the problematic nature of MSW. Therefore, shorter values
of the methanogenic reactor hydraulic retention time
(HRT) could be adopted.
On the basis of these considerations, a research program
was developed aimed at testing, at the laboratory scale, the
performance of a two-phase, mesophilic, wet anaerobic
digestion process, where (a) the euent recirculation is
replaced as a result of the integration of the MSW and
municipal wastewater treatment cycles, and (b) mechanically pre-treated MSW is used as the sole substrate.
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Materials
Mechanically pre-treated MSW, activated sludge from
the aeration tank and anaerobic sludge from the sewage
sludge digester were sampled at an integrated platform
where municipal wastewater treatment is performed and
MSW and digested wastewater treatment sludge are incinerated. The solid waste was sampled at a mechanical treatment section where the plastic bags containing MSW are
opened, the solid waste is shredded and size classication
is conducted by means of a rotating sieve (U = 60 mm).
These operations result in two streams: the over-size, which
is introduced into the incinerator and the under-size which
has to be biologically stabilized prior to landlling. Samples of the mechanically pre-treated waste were collected
during three dierent weeks of the summer season to take
into account the possible short-term variations of waste
composition, and, in turn, to test the performance of the
system under these circumstances. Indeed, the characteristics of the sampled residues allowed for the adoption of different values of the organic loading rate during the test
runs.
The solid waste, the activated sludge and the anaerobic
sludge were analyzed to determine total solids (TS), volatile
solids (VS), total organic carbon (TOC), and total nitrogen
(Ntot); the ratio of TOC to total nitrogen (C/N) was calculated. All of the analyses were performed in triplicate; the
average data are reported in Table 1.
2.2. Experimental device and operation
The proposed scheme is shown in Fig. 1. The reactors
were operated in semi-continuous mode by feeding and
removing an equivalent volume on a daily basis.

G. De Gioannis et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 18011808

1803

Table 1
Characterization of mechanically pre-treated MSW, activated sludge and anaerobic sludge used during the test runs

Waste 1 (Wl)
Waste 2 (W2)
Waste 3 (W3)
Activated sludge
Anaerobic sludge

TS (%)

VS (%TS)

TOC (%TS)

Ntot (%TS)

C/N

59.7 1.35
57.7 1.25
64.3 1.40
0.5 0.01
4.0 0.1

36.2 0.79
22.0 0.70
44.3 1.83
0.3 0.04
2.4 0.26

18.4 1.25
18.1 0.95
30.6 1.48

1.2 0.08

0.9 0.08
2.0 0.13
1.4 0.10

20.5 3.24
9.1 0.94
21.9 2.6

Fig. 1. Process scheme of the tested process (mass ow in % w/w).

The acidogenic phase was carried out using completely


mixed reactors having a volume of 500 ml; temperature
control was not performed. Mechanically pre-treated
MSW and activated sludge were mixed in order to obtain
1015% TS content and the resulting mixture fed to the acidogenic reactor. Acclimation of the aerobic biomass to
anaerobic conditions was allowed by not feeding the acidogenic reactors during the rst 48 h after initial lling. Afterwards, the reactors were operated in a semi-continuous
mode in order to achieve a hydraulic retention time
(HRT) of 3 days, similar to those adopted by other authors
(e.g. Viturtia et al., 1995; Scherer et al., 2000).
Reactors of 800 ml, minimally mixed thoroughly shaken
by hand for 2 min each day, i.e. 1 min before wasting and
1 min after feeding as reported by Stroot et al. (2001), were
used as methanogenic reactors. The temperature was set at
the limit of the mesophilic eld (39 C) and controlled by
circulating warm water through a water jacket. Daily feeding of the methanogenic reactors was performed using a
mixture of 80% w/w of the acidogenic reactor euent
and 20% of anaerobic sludge. The HRT of the methanogenic reactor was set at 8 days, signicantly shorter than

the values usually adopted (i.e. 18 days, Kim et al.


(2002); 14.2 days, Scherer et al. (2000); 1418 days, Hartmann and Ahring (2005); 17 days, Fernandez et al.
(2005)) since a good eciency of the hydrolysis/acidogenic
phase was expected.
Start-up of the methanogenic reactors was performed by
rst lling them with a mixture of 75% v/v of demineralised
water and 25% v/v of anaerobic sludge. Feeding of the
methanogenic reactors was not performed during the following 48 h; afterwards, the reactors were operated in a
semi-continuous mode by daily wasting 12.5% of the volume and feeding with an equivalent volume of the mixture
of acidogenic reactor euent and anaerobic sludge in order
to gradually reach the prexed OLRs, which was achieved
in about 2 HRTs.
All the tests were carried out in triplicates and according
to two runs characterized by dierent operating conditions
(Table 2).
The rst run (28 days) was performed using waste W1
(Table 1). The mixture used for feeding the acidogenic reactors was characterized by a TS content of 9.8% and the
organic loading rate (OLR) was set at 19.9 kg VS/m3 d
(OLR1, Table 2).
The second run lasted 60 days; two dierent wastes (W2
and W3) were used and three values of OLR were adopted
(Table 2: periods 1, 2 and 3 of run 2). Waste W2, characterized by low values of the C/N ratio (9.1) and of the
VS content, was used during the rst two periods of the
second run. During period 1 of run 2 (20 days), a mixture
of 82.3% w/w of activated sludge and 17.7% of waste W2,
corresponding to a TS content of 10% and an organic loading rate of 13.2 kg VS/m3 d (OLR2, Table 2), fed the acidogenic reactors. The mixing ratio was changed during period
2 of run 2 (20 days), according to 78% w/w of activated
sludge and 22% of waste W2, corresponding to a solid content of 13.2% and in order to have an organic loading rate
of 17.6 kg VS/m3 d (OLR3, Table 2). Waste W3, character-

Table 2
Operational parameters adopted during runs 1 and 2
Run

1
2

Period

2.1
2.2
2.3

Waste

Wl
W2
W2
W3

Acidogenic reactor feeding


(% w/w)
Activated sludge

Waste

84.0
82.3
78.0
78.0

16.0
17.7
22.0
22.0

OLR (kg VS/m3


d)

19.9
13.2
17.6
33.0

(OLR1)
(OLR2)
(OLR3)
(OLR4)

TS (%)

9.8
10.0
13.2
14.7

Waste
C/N

20.5
9.1
9.1
21.9

HRT (d)
Acidogenic
reactor

Methanogenic
reactor

3
3
3
3

8
8
8
8

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G. De Gioannis et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 18011808

ized by higher values of C/N ratio and VS content, was


used during period 3 of run 2 (20 days). The aim of this last
part of the research was testing the process when high values of OLR are adopted; in fact, the same waste/activated
sludge mixing ratio of period 2 was adopted but, due to the
dierent characteristics of the solid waste, the resulting
OLR was 33.0 kg VS/m3 d (OLR4, Table 2).
The performance of the reactors was evaluated monitoring, on a daily basis, the volatile fatty acids (VFA) production (acidogenic reactors), the VS removal eciency
(acidogenic reactors and methanogenic reactors), the specic gas production (methanogenic reactors) and the pH
values (methanogenic reactors and, periodically, acidogenic reactors). The concentration of VFA and the pH
are considered parameters that allow determining the stability of an anaerobic digestion process (Sans et al., 1995;
Schober et al., 1999).
2.3. Analytical methods
The total solid content (TS) was measured by weighing
the sample before and after drying at 105 C for 12 h.
The volatile solids content (VS) was measured by weighing the sample before and after combustion at 550 C for
6 h. The total nitrogen content (Ntot) was assessed by
means of the dry combustion method with the elemental
analyzer CHN600, Leco Instr. The organic carbon content (TOC) was determined by dierence between the
total carbon content measured by the CHN600 analyzer
and the xed carbon content measured by thermal oxidation at 950 C with a MAC400 instrument.
The biogas production was measured by connecting the
methanogenic reactors to a volumetric measurement device
based on the principle of water displacement. Biogas composition was assessed using a gas chromatograph (GC
HP5890) equipped with a thermoconductivity detector
(TCD) and a 2-m stainless steel column packed with Porapak T. The dissolved oxygen concentration (DOC) in the
reactors was periodically measured (data not shown) by
means of a digital oxymeter (AMEL Instr. Mod. 360);
the concentration of volatile fatty acids (VFA) was determined by means of titration according to the Kapp method
reported by Buchauer (1998).

2.4. Data analysis


Statistical signicance analysis of the values of dierent
parameters obtained for consecutive adopted OLRs was
carried out by means of F-test (variance analysis) and Students t-test (mean analysis), both at a 5% level of probability (p < 0.05).
3. Results and discussion
The data in Table 3 present the performance of the system in terms of VFA production, VS removal eciency
and specic gas production. The VS removal eciency is
dened as the VS content in the inuent minus the VS of
the euent to be divided by the initial VS content. The
average values for each run/period were calculated considering the triplicate series of the obtained data; standard
deviation also is reported.
The VFA concentration in the acidogenic reactor
(expressed as mg CH3COOH/l) is shown in Fig. 2. The
VFA concentration prole shows a stable performance
after an initial transitory decrease during the start-up,
assessed also by other authors (Hartmann and Ahring,
2005). After the end of the start-up period (about 2 HRTs),
VFA concentration evolved in accordance with the dierent values of the adopted OLRs, as also reported in other
experiences (Mata Alvarez, 2002a,b; Vandevivere et al.,

Fig. 2. VFA concentration in the acidogenic reactor (horizontal solid line:


OLR adopted during each period/run).

Table 3
Performance of the reactors in terms of VFA production, VS removal eciency and assessed specic gas production (SGPA)
VFA (mg CH3COOH/I)

VS removal eciency (%)

Acidogenic reactor

Acidogenic reactor

Entire system

Average
Run l
Run 2,
period 2.1
Run 2,
period 2.2
Run 2,
period 2.3

SGPA (assessed) Nl/kg MSW


Methanogenic reactor

Std dev

Average

Std dev

Average

Std dev

Average

693.2
106.1

21.1
7.7

48.8
9.8

2.6
0.8

71.3
49.8

1.0
7.2

84.6
56.6

Std dev
9.5
6.7

445.2

24.4

31.5

2.2

58.2

6.9

63.2

13.5

1644.7

26.2

63.0

5.9

78.0

3.3

99.6

2.3

G. De Gioannis et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 18011808

2002). During the rst run, characterized by an OLR of


19.9 kg VS/m3 d,
an
average
concentration
of
693.2 21.1 mg CH3COOH/l was reached. When the
OLR decreased (13.2 kg VS/m3 d), due to W2 waste feeding instead of W1, the overall VFA concentration dropped
quickly to as low as 106.0 7.7 mg/l. Adopting a higher
OLR (17.6 kg VS/m3 d) resulted in an increase of the
VFA concentration in the acidogenic reactor up to
445.2 24.4 mg/l, and when the highly biodegradable
waste W3 was used, the VFA concentration reached the
peak value of 1644.7 26.2 mg/l. The dierence between
the VFA concentration values was found to be statistically
signicant, with p < 0.05 for all of the periods/runs under
investigation.
Concerning the high VFA concentration values reached
during period 2.3, some controversy can be found in the literature about possible inhibitory eects (Vavilin et al.,
2007). Veeken et al. (2000) underscore that the inuence
of pH values also has to be taken into account, concluding
that acidic pH is the main inhibitor factor and that no inhibition by VFA or by non-ionized VFA can be measured at
pH values between 5 and 7. However, it is dicult to distinguish and separate the role of VFA from that of pH,
as well as to assess the inuence of pH itself. In fact, Vavilin et al. (2007) state that gradients of pH occurring close to
the hydrolizable particles and able to decrease the hydrolysis rate could not be measurable into the reactor bulk
liquid; this could explain some contradictory results found
in the literature. As far as the present research is concerned,
indeed no adverse eect was noticed, in accordance with
the pH values measured in the euent of the acidogenic
reactor whose results were always higher than 5.5 (data
not reported), even when the highest OLR value was
adopted and the highest VFA concentration was reached.
The acidogenic reactor VS removal eciency and the
entire system one (acidogenic + methanogenic reactor)
are reported in Figs. 3 and 4. It can be noticed that low values of the adopted OLR resulted in low VS removal eciency in the acidogenic reactor. The highest VS removal
eciency (63 5.8%) was achieved when an OLR of
33.0 kg VS/m3 d was adopted. The performance of the acidogenic reactor can be considered remarkable when compared with data provided by other authors. Perot and

Fig. 3. VS removal eciency in the acidogenic reactor (horizontal solid


line: OLR adopted during each period/run).

1805

Fig. 4. VS removal eciency for the entire system (acidogenic + methanogenic reactor) (horizontal solid line: OLR adopted during each period/
run).

Amar (1989) report a VS removal eciency of 20% related


to a two-stage anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge; Karnchanawong and Deesopa (2004) underline VS removal eciency values of 7.2% and 9.4% for a two-stage process
applied to MSW digestion (OLR = 15 and 25 kg VS/
m3 d, respectively); Sung and Santha (2001) obtained a
VS reduction of 21.831.4% after the rst phase of a digestion process applied to dairy cattle manure (OLR variable
and mesophilic conditions); and Scherer et al. (2000)
report, for a two-stage anaerobic digestion process applied
to mechanically pre-treated MSW, a VS removal eciency
from 5% to 20% related to a OLR increasing from 10 to
26 g VS/l d (55 C).
As far as the entire process is considered (acidogenic and
methanogenic reactors, Fig. 4), the following VS removal
eciency values were achieved: 71.3 1.0% (run 1,
OLR1 = 19.9 kg VS/m3 d), 49.8 7.2% (run 2 period 1,
OLR2 = 13.2 kg VS/m3 d), 58.2 6.9% (run 2 period 2,
OLR3 = 17.6 kg VS/m3 d) and 78.8 3.3% (run 2 period
3, OLR4 = 33.0 kg VS/m3 d). The stability of the process,
even during period 1 of run 2, characterized by low values
of the OLR and of the waste C/N ratio, is underscored by
the trend of the daily values of the total VS removal eciency (acidogenic and methanogenic reactors, Fig. 4).
The dierence between the VS removal eciency assessed
for the acidogenic phase and that for the entire process
was found to be statistically signicant, with p < 0.05 for
all of the periods/runs under investigation.
The trend of the assessed specic gas production
expressed with respect to the unit mass of fed waste (SGPA,
Nl/kg MSW) is shown in Fig. 5. The SGP prole shows an
initial transitory increase which is typical for the start-up of
anaerobic processes (Bolzonella et al., 2003; Kim et al.,
2002). After about 2 HRTs, a good correlation can be
noticed between the SGP and the organic loading rate, as
noticed also by Viturtia et al. (1995). The positive evolution
of the process can be noticed also considering the trend of
the pH values in the methanogenic reactor (Fig. 6). The pH
value of 6.8, indicative of stable methanogenic conditions,
was achieved within 16 days from the beginning of both
runs 1 and 2. This occurred also when waste W2, characterized by a C/N of 9.1, considered unfavourable for the pro-

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G. De Gioannis et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 18011808

was estimated using the following relation, as proposed


by Bingemer and Crutzen (1987):
TOCb =TOC 0:014T 0:28

Fig. 5. Values of the specic gas production assessed from the methanogenic reactor (SGPA) (horizontal solid line: OLR adopted during each
period/run).

Fig. 6. Evolution of the pH in the methanogenic reactors (average values)


during runs 1 and 2.

cess (Hartmann et al., 2002), was treated. Statistical analyses indicated that the dierence between SGP values was
signicant, with p < 0.05 for all of the periods/runs under
investigation. The CH4 content in the produced gas always
remained close to 60% v/v.
Table 4 summarizes some data considered for a further
evaluation of the process performance. Theoretical specic
biogas production values (SGPT0 and SGPTm) were evaluated on the basis of the amount of the TOC fed to the
entire system and to the methanogenic reactor, respectively. The amount of organic carbon available for biogas
production under the adopted temperature conditions

where TOCb: content of organic carbon available for


biogasication; TOC: total organic carbon content (Table
4) and T: process temperature in C.
The theoretical specic gas production was then calculated assuming that the biogasication of 1 g of organic
carbon leads to the formation of 1.867 Nl of biogas
(CH4 + CO2) (Cossu et al., 1996; Rao and Singh, 2004).
The expected specic biogas production (SGPE) was calculated on the basis of the amount of organic carbon
removed during the methanogenic stage (TOC assessed in
the inuent to the methanogenic reactor minus TOC
assessed in the euent) and assuming, as reported before,
that 1.867 Nl of biogas are produced by the biogasication
of 1 g of organic carbon.
Comparing the theoretical specic gas production for
the entire system (SGPT0) with the assessed specic gas
production from the methanogenic reactor (SGPA), the
organic carbon conversion eciency (SGPA/SGPT0) results
for the entire system are lower than 30%. However, this
result should be evaluated taking into account that the biogas production from the acidogenic reactor was not measured. In fact, if the performance of the entire system is
assessed in terms of organic carbon removal, it can be
derived from data reported in Table 4 that it accounted
for 80% and 73% for run 2.3 and run 1, respectively, Furthermore, the lowest SGPA/SGPT0 value was reached in
run 2.3, when the highest VS and TOC removals in the acidogenic reactor were measured.
Comparing the theoretical specic gas production for
the methanogenic reactor (SGPTm) with the specic gas
production (SGPA) assessed from the same reactor, it can
be noticed that organic carbon conversion eciencies
(SGPA/SGPTm) up to 51% and 47.7% were reached in
run 1 and run 2.3, respectively. Similar values (49.3%) are
reported by Sosnowski et al. (2003) for an UASB reactor
treating a mixture of sewage sludge and MSW biodegradable fractions. Chae et al. (2008) reported maximum con-

Table 4
Theoretical, expected and assessed specic gas production for the dierent runs
Run

Run
Run
Run
Run
a

1
2.1
2.2
2.3

TOC
to the
system
(g)

TOC to the
methanogenic
reactor (g)

TOC removed
in the
methanogenic
reactor (g)

SGPT0a
(Nl/kg MSW)

SGPTmb
(methanogenic
reactor)
(Nl/kg MSW)

SGPEc
(methanogenic
reactor)
(Nl/kg MSW)

SGPAd
(methanogenic
reactor)
(Nl/kg MSW)

SGPA/
SGPT0
%

SGPA/
SGPTm
%

SGPA/
SGPE
%

2.62
1.74
2.64
4.66

1.45
1.55
1.75
1.83

0.73
0.56
0.54
0.33

299.3
198.8
301.6
532.3

165.6
177.1
199.9
209.1

100.9
77.4
74.6
121.7

84.6
56.6
63.2
99.6

28.2
28.5
20.9
18.7

51.1
32.0
31.6
47.7

83.3
73.0
84.6
81.9

SGPT0: theoretical specic gas production, calculated on the basis of the TOCb (TOC fraction available for biogasication) fed to the system.
SGPTm: theoretical specic gas production, calculated on the basis of the TOCb (TOC fraction available for biogasication) fed to the methanogenic
reactor.
c
SGPE: expected specic gas production, calculated on the basis of the amount of organic carbon removed in the methanogenic reactor.
d
SGPA: assessed specic gas production from the methanogenic reactor.
b

G. De Gioannis et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 18011808

1807

Table 5
Comparison between the performance of the proposed process and those of some other systems
Methane yield (N m3/
kg VS)

System

Substrate

T (C)

HRT
(d)

VS removal
eciency (%)

Proposed process wet,


two-phase
DRANCO Dry,
one-phase
TBW Wet, two-phase
VALORGA Dry
one-phase
WABIO Wet, one-phase

Mechanically pre-treated MSW

39

11

5079

0.24

MSW organic fraction from separate collection

50

20

4070

0.210.30

MSW organic fraction from separate collection


MSW organic fraction from separate collection

3555
3755

14
20

60
60

N.A.
0.210.30

Codisposal of sludge and MSW organic fraction from


separate collection

35

1520

57.5

N.A.

version eciency of 60.4% for anaerobic digestion of swine


manure.
The data reported in Table 4 show also that the values
of biogas production assessed for the methanogenic stage
(SGPA) are fairly consistent with the expected gas production (SGPE) calculated for the same stage.
In order to underscore the interesting perspectives of the
proposed process, Table 5 provides a comparison with the
performances of other anaerobic digestion systems, most
characterized by higher values of the methanogenic reactor
operative temperature and of the hydraulic retention time,
as well as by the use of selected substrate (Mata Alvarez,
2002b; Vandevivere et al., 2002).
Similar studies have been conducted at the University of
California at Berkeley which demonstrated the feasibility
of integrating solid waste treatment with wastewater treatment and of utilizing excess methanogenic reactor capacity
in conventional wastewater treatment plants. The studies
concluded that sludge methanogenic reactors could be
loaded with a mixture of 80% (w/w) refuse (the highly
digestible fraction of MSW) and 20% sludge. Organic loading rates on the order of 4.8 g VS/l day achieved a TS
reduction of about 78% with a corresponding gas production of about 0.4 l/ g VS (Diaz et al., 1981).
4. Conclusions
A two-phase, wet anaerobic digestion process was tested
at laboratory scale using mechanically pre-treated MSW as
the substrate. The proposed process diers from others due
to the integration of the MSW and wastewater cycles,
which allows the avoidance of euent recirculation.
Despite the variable characteristics of the substrate,
the process was performed in a successful way adopting
mesophilic conditions (39 C) and a relatively short
hydraulic retention time (8 days) for the methanogenic
reactor, as well as high values of the organic loading
rate. A maximum of 78% of volatile solid reduction
was obtained with an OLR of 33.0 kg VS/m3 d. Moreover, the methanogenic reactors quickly reached (within
1516 days) the optimal conditions for a stable methanogenic phase. The assessed SGP ranged from 56 to around
100 Nl/kg MSW.

The results obtained show how a proper integration


between the MSW and wastewater cycles could contribute
to improve the perspectives linked to the bio-energetic valorization of the biodegradable fraction of MSW.
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank the IGAG CNR (Environmental Geology and Geoengineering Institute of the National Research Council, Italy) of Cagliari for the
precious cooperation in the activity of chemicalphysical
analysis.
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