THWRC Awarded Proposal 515LUB0039H

Project Number:       515LUB0039H

Title:                           Conversion of Hazardous Organic Wastes to Renewable Energy Using Anaerobic

                                   Digestion: an Experimental and Modeling Study

Lead PI:                     Jerry Lin

Awarded Amount:    $23,000



            The overarching goal of the proposed project is to develop a waste-to-energy treatment alternative to conventional techniques for handling industrial organic wastes. The waste-to-energy conversion will be accomplished through anaerobic digestion that produces biogas (i.e., CH4). Industrial organic wastes are frequently classified as hazardous wastes due to their chemical characteristics or being listed specifically by USEPA. Conventional management strategies of industrial organic wastes include landfill, incineration, chemical stabilization and advanced oxidation. These treatments are costly and energy-intensive alternatives that are incapable of recovering the energy value contained in the organic materials. Further, a secondary pollution control process (e.g., air pollution control device, leachate management, etc.) is typically required as a final polishing step, rendering the waste management unsustainable.

            The proposed research will investigate the anaerobic digestibility and energy recovery potential of industrial organic wastes from three industrial sectors, and develop models that describe the anaerobic digestion for process analysis and plant-scale simulation. The selected organic wastes will be: (1) portable toilet wastes from wastewater treatment industry, (2) waste streams of stillage from corn-ethanol industry, and (3) the residual wastes from a variety of food industries including beer brewery, slaughter-house and cooking oil production industry. We will quantify the inhibition effects of the industrial substrates on the biological activity during anaerobic digestion, and modify digestion operation to optimize the biogas production from the degradation of organic wastes. Specifically, the following research tasks will be carried out:

  1. Assess the inhibition effects caused by the selected industrial organic wastes to the biological activity in anaerobic digesters;
  2. Estimate the biomethane potential of the organic wastes under an optimized digestion condition;
  3. Quantify the biological degradability of the selected organic wastes during anaerobic digestion; and
  4. Develop kinetic models to describe the industrial waste digestion process and implement the kinetic models in a waste treatment package (Hydromantis GPS-X) for process simulation.

            The first three research tasks will be accomplished through laboratory-scale batch anaerobic digestion experiments. The data obtained from the experimental investigation will be applied for biokinetic model development. The parameters describing the biological growth and substrate utilization during anaerobic digestion will be implemented in Hydromantis GPS-X for steady-state and dynamic simulation to understand the substrate treatability and energy recovery at plant scale. The results of the project will help address the need for sustainable management of industrial organic wastes with the benefit of renewable energy production. The total budget of the two-year project is $50,000 ($25,000 each fiscal year).