Anaerobic Digestion: A Sustainable Alternative for Food Waste Management in Maine

This abstract has open access
Abstract Summary

Anaerobic digestion is a waste recovery alternative to incineration and landfilling for food waste. Anaerobic digestion uses anaerobic microbes called methanogens to create methane from complex organic matter, like food waste. The end products, biogas and residual sludge, are both useable products. Biogas can be used to generate electricity and heat for facility buildings. The sludge material is high in nitrogen and phosphorus, which makes it a great fertilizer for agricultural use. The process does have challenges, however. Anaerobic digestion has known inhibitors including common salt (NaCl), which can be found in food and therefore food waste. In my experiment, model anaerobic digesters were set up at different salt concentrations to determine the level required to reduce the amount of methane produced in a 1-day period. At 8g/L concentration of NaCl, we observed a 100% decline in methane production. The goal of this research is to determine “safe” operating ranges of inhibitory substances that operators can use to avoid costly losses of methane. The increased stability of the digesters operating in the safe range will make an already attractive food recovery process more attractive for potential investors in the technology the state of Maine to move away from landfilling and incinerating food waste. In addition, the increased stability of the anaerobic digestion process will create opportunities for Maine to reduce costs associated with landfilling and incinerating food waste, generate clean renewable energy from the digestion process, and reduce negative environmental impacts associated with incinerating and landfilling food waste.

Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Abstract Topic
Engineering & Information Sciences
Submission# :
Judge Time Slot :
AM1 (9:30 - 10:30)