Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 189, Issue 3, pp 987–1006 | Cite as

Improvement of Sugarcane Stillage (Vinasse) Anaerobic Digestion with Cheese Whey as its Co-substrate: Achieving High Methane Productivity and Yield

  • Sandro P. Sousa
  • Giovanna Lovato
  • Roberta Albanez
  • Suzana M. Ratusznei
  • José A. D. RodriguesEmail author


This study investigated methane production in an anaerobic sequencing batch biofilm reactor (AnSBBR) by co-digesting sugarcane vinasse and cheese whey. The assessment was based on the influence of feed strategy, interaction between cycle time and influent concentration, applied volumetric organic load (OLRA), and temperature over system stability and performance. The system showed flexibility with regard to the feed strategy, but the reduction of cycle time and influent concentration, at the same OLRA, resulted in lower methane productivity. Increasing organic load, up to the value of 15.27 gCOD L−1 day−1, favored the process, increasing methane yield and productivity. Temperature reduction from 30 to 25 °C resulted in worse performance, although increasing it to 35 °C provided similar results to 30 °C. The best results were achieved at an OLRA of 15.27 gCOD L−1 day−1, cycle time of 8 h, fed-batch operation, and temperature of 30 °C. The system achieved soluble COD removal efficiency of 89%, methane productivity of 208.5 molCH4 m−3 day−1 and yield of 15.76 mmolCH4 gCOD−1. The kinetic model fit indicated methanogenesis preference for the hydrogenotrophic route. At the industrial scale estimative, considering a scenario with a sugarcane ethanol plant with ethanol production of 150,896 m3 year−1, it was estimated energy production of 25,544 MWh month−1.


AnSBBR Co-digestion Methane Vinasse Whey 


Funding information

This work was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP: #2015/06246-7), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq: #443181/2016-0), and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors indicate no potential conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

12010_2019_3056_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.São Carlos School of Engineering (EESC)University of São Paulo (USP)São CarlosBrazil
  2. 2.Mauá School of Engineering (EEM)Mauá Institute of Technology (IMT)São Caetano do SulBrazil

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