Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 28–46 | Cite as

Methane Production by Co-Digesting Vinasse and Whey in an AnSBBR: Effect of Mixture Ratio and Feed Strategy

  • Giovanna Lovato
  • Roberta Albanez
  • Marianne Triveloni
  • Suzana M. Ratusznei
  • José A. D. RodriguesEmail author


The most common approach to deal with vinasse (sugarcane stillage) is fertigation, but this technique compromises soil structure and surrounding water bodies. A possible solution is to transport vinasse to local cheese whey producers and perform the co-digestion of these wastewaters together, reducing their organic load and generating bioenergy. Therefore, this study investigated the application of an AnSBBR (anaerobic sequencing batch biofilm reactor) operated in batch and fed-batch mode, co-digesting vinasse and whey at 30 °C. The effect of influent composition and feeding strategy was assessed. In all conditions, the system achieved high organic matter removal (approximately 83%). Increasing the percentage of vinasse from 0 to 100% in the influent resulted in a decrease in methane productivity (76.3 to 51.1 molCH4 m−3 day−1) and yield (12.7 to 9.1 molCH4 kgCOD−1), but fed-batch mode operation improved reactor performance (73.0 molCH4 m−3 day−1 and 11.5 molCH4 kgCOD−1). From the kinetic metabolic model, it was possible to infer that, at the best condition, methane is produced in a similar way from the acetoclastic and hydrogenotrophic routes. A scheme of four parallel reactors with a volume of 16,950 m3 each was proposed in the scale-up estimation, with an energy recovery estimated in 28,745 MWh per month.


Co-digestion Methane Modeling SBR Vinasse Whey 



This study was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP: #2014/07692-8, #2015/06246-7, #2015/08403-2), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq: 443181/2016-0) and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Baltus C. Bonse’s revision.


%CH4 Molar fraction of methane in biogas (%)

%CO2 Molar fraction of carbon dioxide in biogas (%)

AnSBBR Anaerobic Sequencing Batch Biofilm Reactor

ASBR Anaerobic Sequencing Batch Reactor

ASOL Applied specific organic load (gCOD gTVS−1 day−1)

AVOL Applied volumetric organic load (gCOD L−1 day−1)

BA Bicarbonate alkalinity

CS Concentration of organic matter (gCOD L−1)

CBiomass concentration (gTVS L−1)

DAnF Downflow Anaerobic Filter

EtOH Ethanol

ɛST Organic matter removal efficiency for unfiltered samples (%)

ɛSF Organic matter removal efficiency for filtered samples (%)

H Hydrogen

HAc Acetic acid

HBu Butyric acid

HPr Propionic acid

M Methane

MPr Daily molar productivity of methane (molCH4 m−3 day−1)

MTVS Total biomass in the reactor in total volatile solids (gTVS)

YA Molar yield per applied organic load (mmolCH4 gCOD−1)

YR Molar yield per removed organic load (mmolCH4 gCOD-1)

RSOL Removed specific organic load (gCOD gTVS−1 day−1)

RVOL Removed volumetric organic load (gCOD L−1 day−1)

S Substrate (combination of whey and vinasse)

SMPr Daily specific molar productivity of methane (molCH4 kgTVS−1 day−1)

TVA Total volatile acids (gHAc L−1)

TVS Total volatile solids

UASB Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket Reactor

VIA Volatile intermediate acids

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors indicate no potential conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mauá School of EngineeringMauá Institute of Technology (EEM/IMT)São Caetano do SulBrazil

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