Evaluation of Biogas Production Potential by Dry Anaerobic Digestion of Switchgrass–Animal Manure Mixtures
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Anaerobic digestion is a biological method used to convert organic wastes into a stable product for land application with reduced environmental impacts. The biogas produced can be used as an alternative renewable energy source. Dry anaerobic digestion [>15% total solid (TS)] has an advantage over wet digestion (<10% TS) because it allows for the use of a smaller volume of reactor and because it reduces wastewater production. In addition, it produces a fertilizer that is easier to transport. Performance of anaerobic digestion of animal manure–switchgrass mixture was evaluated under dry (15% TS) and thermophilic conditions (55 °C). Three different mixtures of animal manure (swine, poultry, and dairy) and switchgrass were digested using batch-operated 1-L reactors. The swine manure test units showed 52.9% volatile solids (VS) removal during the 62-day trial, while dairy and poultry manure test units showed 9.3% and 20.2%, respectively. Over the 62 day digestion, the swine manure test units yielded the highest amount of methane 0.337 L CH4 /g VS, while the dairy and poultry manure test units showed very poor methane yield 0.028 L CH4/g VS and 0.002 L CH4/g VS, respectively. Although dairy and poultry manure performed poorly, they may still have high potential as biomass for dry anaerobic digestion if appropriate designs are developed to prevent significant volatile fatty acid (VFA) accumulation and pH drop.