Feeding frequency influences process performance and microbial community composition in anaerobic digesters treating steam exploded food waste

Svensson, K, Paruch, L, Gaby, JC, Linjordet, R

Bioresource Technology, 2018


In anaerobic digestion, studies of feeding frequency have produced conflicting results. Hence, the effect of feeding frequency on process variables and microbial community structure was investigated by comparing a laboratory-scale digester fed steam exploded food waste 10 times daily vs. one fed an equivalent amount once daily.

The Frequently Fed Digester (FFD) produced on average 20% more methane and had lower effluent concentrations of long-chain fatty acids. Greater daily fluctuations in acetate, pH and biogas production rate could explain the lower specific methane yield and β-oxidation. Feeding frequency also influenced the microbial community whereby Tenericutes (42%) dominated in FFD but Firmicutes (31%) was most abundant in the Daily Fed Digester (DFD).

Feeding frequency effects are therefore postulated to occur more often in digesters fed labile feedstocks at high organic loading rates.

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