Effect of pretreatment techniques on food waste solubilization and biogas production during thermophilic batch anaerobic digestion

  • Ajay Menon
  • Fei Ren
  • Jing-Yuan Wang
  • Apostolos Giannis


The purpose of this study was to optimize the alkaline, ultrasonication, and thermal pretreatment in order to enhance the solubilization of food waste (FW) for the production of volatile fatty acids, hydrogen, and methane in thermophilic batch anaerobic digestion. Initially, the effect of pretreatment techniques in the acidogenic phase was studied, and the optimal combinations of different conditions were determined. It was found that each pretreatment technique affected food waste solubilization differently. Alkaline pretreatment increased hydrogen yield in the acidogenic sludge by four times over control. COD solubilization was increased by 47 % when FW pre-heated at 130 °C for 60 min. Ultrasonication at 20 kHz and 45 min reduced processing time to 38 h from the 60–80 h needed in normal operation. Response surface methodology (RSM) was used to optimize a combination of alkaline, ultrasonication, and thermal pretreatment. Optimized conditions were applied to methanogenic single-stage thermophilic AD process, and their impact on biogas production was monitored. Results showed that FW heated at 130 °C for 50 min geminates biogas production compared to control experiment. In conclusion, a short thermal pretreatment regime could significant affect biogas production in single-stage thermophilic AD.


Thermophilic AD pH adjustment Ultrasonication Substrate solubilization Food waste 



This study is supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore, program number NRF-CRP5-2009-02, for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering/Residues and Resource Reclamation Centre, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


  1. 1.
    Vehlow J, Bergfeldt B, Visser R, Wilén C (2007) European Union waste management strategy and the importance of biogenic waste. J Mater Cycles Waste 9(2):130–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Appels L, Lauwers J, Degrève J, Helsen L, Lievens B, Willems K, Dewil R (2011) Anaerobic digestion in global bio-energy production: potential and research challenges. Renew Sust Energy Rev 15(9):4295–4301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Park YJ, Tsuno H, Hidaka T, Cheon JH (2008) Evaluation of operational parameters in thermophilic acid fermentation of kitchen waste. J Mater Cycles Waste 10(1):46–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Romano RT, Zhang R, Teter S, McGarvey JA (2009) The effect of enzyme addition on anaerobic digestion of Wheat Grass. Bioresource Technol 100(20):4564–4571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jeihanipour A, Niklasson C, Taherzadeh MJ (2011) Enhancement of solubilization rate of cellulose in anaerobic digestion and its drawbacks. Process Biochem 46(7):1509–1514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Palmowski L, Müller J (2000) Influence of the size reduction of organic waste on their anaerobic digestion. Water Sci Technol 41(3):155–162Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mata-Alvarez J, Mace S, Llabres P (2000) Anaerobic digestion of organic solid wastes. An overview of research achievements and perspectives. Bioresource Technol 74(1):3–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cavinato C, Bolzonella D, Fatone F, Cecchi F, Pavan P (2011) Optimization of two-phase thermophilic anaerobic digestion of biowaste for hydrogen and methane production through reject water recirculation. Bioresour Technol 102(18):8605–8611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Peleg M, Normand MD, Corradini MG (2012) The Arrhenius equation revisited. Crit Rev Food Sci 52(9):830–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ahring BK (2003) Perspectives for anaerobic digestion in Biomethanation. Springer, Berlin HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cecchi F, Pavan P, Alvarez JM, Bassetti A, Cozzolino C (1991) Anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste: thermophilic vs. mesophilic performance at high solids. Water Manage Res 9(1):305–315Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kim M, Ahn YH, Speece RE (2002) Comparative process stability and efficiency of anaerobic digestion; mesophilic vs. thermophilic. Water Res 36(17):4369–4385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Li L, He Q, Wei Y, He Q, Peng X (2014) Early warning indicators for monitoring the process failure of anaerobic digestion system of food waste. Bioresour Technol 171:491–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
  15. 15.
    Rajagopal R, Ahamed A, Wang JY (2014) Hydrolytic and acidogenic fermentation potential of food waste with source segregated feces-without-urine as co-substrate. Bioresour Technol 167:564–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bai R, Sutanto M (2002) The practice and challenges of solid waste management in Singapore. Waste Manage 22(5):557–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kim SH, Han SK, Shin HS (2004) Feasibility of biohydrogen production by anaerobic co-digestion of food waste and sewage sludge. Int J Hydrog Energy 29(15):1607–1616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wang X, Yang G, Feng Y, Ren G, Han X (2012) Optimizing feeding composition and carbon-nitrogen ratios for improved methane yield during anaerobic co-digestion of dairy, chicken manure and wheat straw. Bioresour Technol 120:78–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Saleh AF, Kamarudin E, Yaacob AB, Yussof AW, Abdullah MA (2012) Optimization of biomethane production by anaerobic digestion of palm oil mill effluent using response surface methodology. Asia-Pac J Chem Eng 7(3):353–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Box GE, Draper NR (1987) Empirical model-building and response surfaces. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mason RL, Gunst RF, Hess JL (2003) Statistical design and analysis of experiments: with applications to engineering and science. Wiley, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lagerkvist A, Morgan-Sagastume F (2012) The effects of substrate pre-treatment on anaerobic digestion systems: a review. Waste Manage 32(9):1634–1650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Browne JD, Murphy JD (2013) Assessment of the resource associated with biomethane from food waste. Appl Energy 104:170–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Cooney M, Maynard N, Cannizzaro C, Benemann J (2007) Two-phase anaerobic digestion for production of hydrogen-methane mixtures. Bioresour Technol 98(14):2641–2651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    APHA (1995) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 19th edn. American Public Health Association AWWA, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Dubois M, Gilles KA, Hamilton JK, Rebers P, Smith F (1956) Colorimetric method for determination of sugars and related substances. Anal Chem 28(3):350–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Fang HH, Liu H (2002) Effect of pH on hydrogen production from glucose by a mixed culture. Bioresour Technol 82(1):87–93MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Pilli S, Bhunia P, Yan S, LeBlanc RJ, Tyagi RD, Surampalli RY (2011) Ultrasonic pretreatment of sludge: a review. Ultrason Sonochem 18(1):1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Suslick KS (1998) Kirk-othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kim S, Choi K, Kim JO, Chung J (2013) Biological hydrogen production by anaerobic digestion of food waste and sewage sludge treated using various pretreatment technologies. Biodegradation 24(6):753–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Elbeshbishy E, Hafez H, Dhar BR, Nakhla G (2011) Single and combined effect of various pretreatment methods for biohydrogen production from food waste. Int J Hydrog Energy 36(17):11379–11387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Müller JA (2000) Pretreatment processes for the recycling and reuse of sewage sludge. Water Sci Tech 42(9):167–174Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Xiao BY, Liu JX (2009) Effects of various pretreatments on biohydrogen production from sewage sludge. Chin Sci Bull 54:2038–2044Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Xiao BY, Liu JX (2006) Effects of thermally pretreated temperature on bio-hydrogen production from sewage sludge. J Environ Sci 18(1):6–12Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ajay Menon
    • 1
  • Fei Ren
    • 1
  • Jing-Yuan Wang
    • 1
  • Apostolos Giannis
    • 1
  1. 1.Residues and Resource Reclamation Centre (R3C), Nanyang Environment and Water Research InstituteNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations