Biogas generation from by-products of edible oil processing: a review of opportunities, challenges and strategies


Edible oil processing by-products can be used to produce a renewable fuel called biogas through anaerobic digestion technology. In this process, the physicochemical characteristics of the substrates dictate the process conditions, stability and microbial profile. All these, in turn, affect the overall digester design and operational efficiency. Most edible oil processing by-products tend to exhibit comparatively similar physicochemical properties, allowing for echo studies to be conducted on them. Naturally, residual fats and oils in edible oil by-products should induce high methane production potential. However, this does not occur without certain drawbacks. In this work, a review is conducted on biogas systems that use edible oil processing by-products as substrates for anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion opportunities and challenges associated with these substrates are identified by analysis of factors that affect anaerobic digestion. The factors are scrutinised under different sub-headings, viz., substrate physicochemical composition, process conditions and parameters. Knowledge gaps are identified. Additionally, strategies for resolving some of the highlighted challenges while leveraging opportunities identified are discussed.

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Fig. 1



Anaerobic digestion


Total solids


Refined, bleached, deodorised and winterised


Volatile solids


Chemical oxygen demand


Biological oxygen demand


Biomethane potential


No data


Organic fraction composition


Hydraulic retention time


Organic loading rate


Solids retention time


Volatile fatty acids


Palm oil mill effluent


Olive mill waste water


Olive mill solid waste


Fatty acid


Long-chain fatty acids


Short-chain fatty acids


Anaerobic codigestion


Oxidation/reduction potential


Expanded granular suspended bed


Liquid poultry manure


Fats, oils and grease


Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket


Inverted anaerobic sludge blanket


Upflow anaerobic sludge fixed film


Continuously stirred tank reactor


Total ammonia nitrogen


Total chemical oxygen demand


Cheese whey


Automatic methane potential testing system version II


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This research was supported by the University of South Africa (UNISA) through the Institute for the Development of Energy for African Sustainability (IDEAS). The authors are grateful to UNISA for the resources provided to enable this work to be conducted.

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Rashama, C., Ijoma, G. & Matambo, T. Biogas generation from by-products of edible oil processing: a review of opportunities, challenges and strategies. Biomass Conv. Bioref. 9, 803–826 (2019).

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  • Biogas
  • Edible oil cake
  • Pomace
  • Microbial inhibition
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Wastewater treatment